PEORIA, Ill. (WAND)- The woman Brendt Christensen dated in Spring 2017 resumed her testimony Thursday in Christensen's federal trial.
Prosecutors continued to play audio recordings made by Terra Bullis of conversations with Christensen in the weeks after Yingying Zhang's disappearance.
At one point in the recordings, Christensen encourages Bullis not to talk to investigators.
"Nothing you can tell them is actually going to help me or you or (my wife)," Christensen said. "I gave them all the information I could possibly give them that will help find her."
Christensen suggests that whoever kidnapped Yingying Zhang "kidnapped the wrong person," and suggested that the disappearance of a sex worker or ex-convict would have gained far less attention.
"Think about who the victim is this time. It was an international student who was relatively successful," Christensen said. "The only reason this ever got any attention is because of specific details like that."
Christensen can also be heard discussing serial killers like Ted Bundy at some length. Bullis can be heard offering a listening ear about the investigation.
"You know, I wish I could talk a little more freely, but I'm still kind of paranoid they're listening to me," Christensen said. "The unfortunate thing about all of this is that ... the number one way people get caught with any crime ... they tell someone."
During the conversation, Christensen told Bullis that, on the day of Zhang's disappearance, he had been driving around trying to clear his head and even drove past Bullis's home. She ask why he did not contact her, but he told her he believed she was busy that day.
Prosecutors also showed text message conversations from that day in which Bullis sends Christensen a lengthy text about the value of their relationship. The conversation showed Christensen sending a brief, unrelated text hours later.
Later in the morning, Bullis testified that Christensen texted her on June 30, 2017, asking her to attend a memorial walk for Yingying Zhang that evening. When Bullis asked not to go, Christensen referred to their dominant/submissive BDSM relationship.
"The dom in me says do what I want," Christensen texted her.
Bullis met with FBI agents, then took a bus to the event at Krannert Center. When she arrived, Christensen opened a backpack, brought out a collar and asked her to wear it at the event. She refused.
"For the nature of the event, he seemed to be smiling a bit and happy," Bullis told jurors. "He had a water bottle with some alcohol filling up the bottle."
Prosecutors played portions of a recording Bullis made at the walk using a body mic. Many portions of the recording were unintelligible, but Bullis recalled some of them.
"I asked if it was some kind of adrenaline junky thing for him ... he said people were there for him," Bullis testified.
At one point on the recording, Christensen can be heard saying "see that?" Bullis said Christensen traced the number 13 on her hand.
When the walk ended, Bullis went indoors to turn off her recording device before a planned concert. While in a bathroom, she emailed FBI agents, then deleted the emails. When she returned to Christensen, he searched her phone, kept it, and opened a notepad app, Bullis said.
On the app, he wrote then deleted four lines of text, Bullis said: (1) It was me. (2) She was number 13. (3) She's gone. (4) Forever.
During the concert, Christensen gestured toward a nearby woman and said she would be a good target, Bullis told jurors. Christensen said they would follow the woman after the concert, but they did not, Bullis said.
After the concert, the two started walking and Bullis again began recording their conversation, she said.
In that conversation, which prosecutors have already played at trial, Christensen describes raping and killing Yingying Zhang at his apartment.
"I choked her for must have been ten minutes with my hands, then I released her," he said. "I carried her to my bathroom. I got the bat and I hit her on the head as hard as I could and it broke her head open ... I wasn't sure if she was dead or not, so I had a knife and I stabbed her in the neck and she grabbed for it. I chopped her head off, and I said that was the end of it ..."
"He was excited," Bullis said of Christensen's account. "He laughed while describing cutting her head off."
Though he had been drinking, Bullis said Christensen was not drunk at the time; she also said the conversation was not part of any BDSM role play.
The following morning, Christensen texted Bullis, writing "Morning sweetheart," and explaining that his wife was not upset about picking the two up at the end of the night.
On June 30, authorities arrested Christensen. Bullis said he called her several times from jail that day.
Bullis testified that being associated with Christensen, particularly in photographs from the memorial walk, has affected her life.
"I was unable to work in a public environment," she said, adding that she has sought counseling for the effects of the case. She said she has also received between $7,000 and $8,000 from the FBI, mostly in reimbursement for job loss and counseling.
Bullis said testifying against Christensen is "terrifying" but "necessary."
Thursday afternoon, defense attorney Robert Tucker cross-examined Bullis, attacking her suggestion that Christensen was not drunk when he made remarks at the memorial walk.
"At about 1:55 that day, he told you he'd been drinking and had a headache," Tucker said. "You knew that he had a severe problem with alcohol, didn't you?"
Under Tucker's questioning, Bullis said she had contacted Christensen first through a dating website, that she first introduced him to BDSM and that she first introduced him to the website Fetlife. He also asked whether Christensen had been supportive of Bullis as she dealt with emotional and other problems.
"His support was substantial," she said. "He often comforted me."
Tucker pressed Bullis on whether she tried to elicit useful statements from Christensen and pointed out she first received $1,000 from the FBI in June 2017.
"I truly believed ... if information came up either exonerating him or giving information as to involvement, that would be useful to someone."
FBI agent Greg Catey testified Thursday testified about phone records, saying they match existing accounts about Zhang's activity, in that she was in Turner Hall, then went to her apartment and a bus before disappearing.
Catey says Zhang's phone no longer communicated with the AT&T network at 2:28 p.m. on the day of her disappearance - about 20 mintues after cameras showed her getting into a black Saturn Astra.
Catey says he tried to get data from the OnStar module in Christensen's car, but discovered there was no data on the module.