Federal agents believe a visiting scholar from China was abducted from a University of Illinois campus earlier this month, sparking a hefty reward for information leading to an arrest.
Yingying Zhang, 26, was last seen stepping into a vehicle at the edge of the campus in Urbana-Champaign on June 9, according to the FBI.
The FBI initially issued a $10,000 reward seeking Zhang’s kidnapper and the Champaign County Crime Stoppers added another $40,000 incentive on Monday.
Zhang’s family, her father, aunt and boyfriend, arrived in Illinois on Saturday as authorities search for the missing woman, according to the News-Gazette.
Surveillance footage showed Zhang getting into the black Saturn Astra hatchback around 2 p.m. on the Friday she vanished, according to campus police.
Cops said rideshare companies, such as Uber and Lyft, have been contacted. The driver, a white male suspect, circled the block before stopping to speak to Zhang.
Detectives have also probed reports of a similar black vehicle attempting to lure young women into their car but it’s unclear if it’s related.
Ronggao reportedly told the Beijing Youth Daily that “when my daughter is found, I will never let her go back to the U.S.”
The South China Morning Post reports Zhang came to Illinois in May to research with the school’s department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences.