Terra Bullis is the ex-girlfriend of Brendt Christensen, the former PhD student convicted of murdering a visiting University of Illinois Chinese scholar named Yingying Zhang.
She went with Christensen to a vigil for Zhang, whose body has never been found. Bullis also agreed to wear a wire to help the FBI pin the murder on Christensen, who was eventually convicted of it. The case is featured on the November 15, 2019 episode of 20/20.
Where is Bullis today? According to the News-Gazette, Bullis was so traumatized by the murder that she testified in 2019 that she “was no longer able to “work in a public environment” and had “sought mental-health treatment.” The FBI gave her $7,000-$8,000, the newspaper reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
Bullis Testified During Christensen’s Trial in Federal Court
Terra Bullis gave dramatic court testimony in Christensen’s federal court trial. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to a life prison term; he was spared the death penalty.
According to Bullis, she felt very conflicted because she still cared for Christensen, but she also cared about what had happened to Zhang. “… it’s incredibly painful,” Bullis said in court, according to CBS Local. ABC reports that Bullis testified that she Christensen seemed excited and proud when he discussed killing Zhang.
According to News Gazette, she testified that Christensen typed the following, showed it to her, and then deleted it:
“It was me. She was No. 13. She is gone. Forever.”
In one of the audio recordings, according to ABC, Christensen described how Zhang fought back, saying, that it was “supernatural almost how [Zhang] just didn’t give up.” He then claimed he attacked Zhang with a baseball bat before decapitating her.
Here’s a transcript of their conversation.
She recorded 9 conversations in all with Christensen for the FBI. “I made you bleed once on your face,” Christensen said on one, according to CBS. “Do you remember that?” She testified that he had told police he claimed blood, which is now believed to be Zhang’s, was actually from Bullis.
They met on a dating website, although Christensen was married.
One of the most chilling moments came when it was revealed that Christensen and Bullis attended a vigil held for Zhang.
She testified that Christensen seemed “happy” at the vigil and was laughing, according to WGN.
Indeed, it was later revealed that Christensen, then a kidnapping suspect Brendt Christensen attended a vigil in support of missing University of Illinois scholar, Yingying Zhang, according to The News Gazette.
Social media users circulated photos of the walk for Zhang and pointed out the resemblance a man in the crowd bears to Christensen. The FBI said in an affidavit charging Christensen that authorities believe Zhang is dead. They’ve never found her body, however.
The News Gazette reported that it had learned that Christensen “attended a Thursday evening walk held by in support of Ms. Zhang outside the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts even as he was under surveillance by police.”
Video also surfaced:
A prosecutor told the court on July 5 that Christensen was recorded at the rally by authorities and “explained the characteristics of his ideal victim” and, according to CNN, “pointed out those in the crowd who matched them at a vigil he attended for the missing woman.” The person recording Christensen was not identified. However, the prosecutor also alleged in court that Christensen threatened a person on a recording who provided incriminating information against him, CNN reported. In one recording, Christensen is accused of saying that “Zhang fought him, and that he took her back to his apartment and held her there against her will last month,” CNN reported. The judge has denied bail for Christensen.
Christensen is also seen wearing black in the top right of photos.
Here’s another view:
Here’s the original photo post from the walk:
You can see a closer view of the photo here.
Here’s a photo of Christensen from his Facebook page:
Here he is with his wife (Heavy has blurred out her identity because she is not accused of any complicity in his alleged actions):
The 26-year-old Zhang wasan environmental engineer who was in America studying crop production.
The News Gazette reported on July 3 that it had confirmed that Christensen, 28, attended the rally the day before his arrest and while he was already under police surveillance. In some of the photos, Christensen, who was married, is seen with an unidentified woman. Christensen’s wife has not made any comments on the arrest.
Christensen was, until recently, a PhD researcher and physics class teaching assistant at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which is the same university that Zhang had come from China to attend. Zhang’s disappearance and possible death have deeply disturbed many in China and the United States, and the university community has rallied in support of her family and to find her.
Zhang vanished on June 9 after failing to flag down a bus and after she was seen getting into a black Saturn vehicle that police now allege was driven by Christensen. The affidavit in the case accuses Christensen of admitting while under surveillance that he abducted Zhang. The affidavit also accuses Christensen of admitting to the FBI that Zhang had been in his vehicle, although he claimed she left it voluntarily.
According to the affidavit, Christensen’s mobile device had accessed fetish site threads, including one called “Abduction 101.”
Christensen is scheduled to appear in court for the first time on July 3. You can read more about him here: