The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Crime Stoppers have jointly announced USD 40,000 as a cash reward for any information leading to the arrest of the person or persons involved in the case of missing University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang.
The president of Crime Stoppers, John Hecker, has said this is the largest cash reward ever established by the Champaign County Crime Stoppers in its 31-year history.
The money for the reward was raised by individual donations and is administered by Crime Stoppers to assist Zhang's family, but the family requested the money be used as a reward for information that will help in solving this case.
According to the Xinhua news agency, the FBI has offered a second reward of 10,000 dollars for any information about the location or whereabouts of Zhang.
The whereabouts of Zhang Yingying, 26, have remained unknown since last Friday when she was seen near the north end of the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), wearing a charcoal-colored baseball cap, a pink and white top, jeans and white tennis shoes and carrying a black backpack, the Xinhua news agency reported.
According to the FBI, the suspect seems to be a white male who was in a car and had stopped to talk to Zhang on Friday afternoon.
Zhang's friends informed the police that she was heading to an apartment complex in Urbana to sign a lease after about one month into a year-long appointment at the UIUC campus.
Zhang can be seen talking to driver of a black Saturn Astra, about five blocks from where she got off a bus in Urbana and entering the vehicle shortly thereafter on Friday afternoon in a security camera footage released by university police on Monday.
The investigators have asked the public to help identify the vehicle in which Zhang had entered as she has not been seen or heard from since then and attempts to contact her by phone remain unsuccessful.
The Chinese Deputy Consul General in Chicago Yu Peng and other Chinese consuls are in close touch with the U.S. authorities and are assisting relatives of Zhang in the matter.