Brent Christensen, the man arrested for allegedly kidnapping Chinese student Zhang Yingying, made his first appearance in a court in Urbana, Illinois on Monday.
The courthouse was packed, with demonstrators demanding justice for Yingying and her family.
Christensen was not asked to enter a plea and only answered in the affirmative when Magistrate Judge Eric Long asked if he understood the charges.
The hearing lasted around nine minutes and Christensen's attorney Evan Bruno said his client will have his day in court.
"As long as everyone keeps an open mind and listens to the evidence and doesn't jump to conclusions, I think that will be for the best," said Bruno.
CGTN's Sean Callebs reports that another hearing is slated for Wednesday afternoon to determine if Christensen should be released on bail, something many in the community strongly oppose.
Christensen admitted to the FBI that he gave Zhang a ride in his car but says he got lost and the girl panicked and jumped out.
Federal authorities believe Zhang Yingying is no longer alive.