Family says woman spotted in small U.S. town not Zhang Yingying

Updated 2017-07-12 14:53:40
Zhang Yingying. (File photo released by police)

Zhang Yingying. (File photo released by police)

(ECNS) -- The family of Zhang Yingying says a lookalike woman reportedly selling jewelry in Salem, Illinois, was not Zhang herself. Zhang went missing in the United States in June.

The FBI initially investigated the disappearance of the 26 year old, a scholar visiting the University of Illinois, as a suspected kidnapping. Federal authorities now say they believe Zhang is dead, though her body hasn't been found.

Brendt Christensen, 28, has been charged and arrested in relation to her disappearance.

However, in a turn of events, multiple individuals in Salem, located some 200 kilometers from the campus, reported encounters with a woman who looked like Zhang Yingying. One person said the missing scholar was in her store on June 16 wearing the same shirt in photos released by the FBI.

Following the reports, Zhang's family watched video footage provided by Salem police on Tuesday morning and believed the woman was not their daughter.

The family's Chicago lawyer, Wang Zhidong, also told China Central Television that the family visited Salem on July 6 to search for Zhang themselves.

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