The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Crimestoppers jointly announced on Monday a 40,000 U.S. dollar reward for information leading to an arrest of any individual involved in the apparent kidnapping of 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, a visiting Chinese scholar from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).
This is the largest award that Champaign County Crimestoppers has ever established in its 31-year history, Crimestoppers Champaign County President John Hecker told the first press conference on the disappearance of Zhang at the Illinois Fire Service Institute of the UIUC.
The 40,000-dollar reward was raised by individual donations and is administered by Crimestoppers, a non-police, non-profit organization.
A second reward of 10,000 dollars will be offered by the FBI for the location or whereabouts of Zhang, FBI Special Agent Brad Ware told reporters.
Crimestoppers is offering the 40,000-dollar reward for the location of Zhang with no strings attached, which means it allows members of the community to provide anonymous information about criminal activity. But to get the 10,000 dollar reward, the person who submits the tip may be called upon to testify in the criminal case in court, Ware said.
"We have no way of knowing or tracing who is submitting information via our P3 mobile app, via our website, or phone line. We've gone to great lengths to assure that," Hecker said.
Zhang was last seen on June 9 near the north end of the UIUC campus, wearing a charcoal-colored baseball cap, a pink and white top, jeans and white tennis shoes and carrying a black backpack
Zhang went missing on that day after getting into a black Saturn Astra car about five blocks from where she got off a bus in Urbana as she was heading to an apartment complex to sign a lease.
"We do have a full team of people reviewing video and they've been doing that almost exclusively, some of the team is, for the past week," Ware said.
Zhang's father arrived at the UIUC on Saturday. According to a UIUC spokesperson, the university has provided apartments for Zhang's family, and the Chinese Student Scholars Association is providing meals to them.