Missing Exchange Student Found, Cyber Kidnapping Suspected

A 17-year-old Chinese exchange student, Kai Zhuang, who disappeared in Utah last week, has been discovered alive. Law enforcement officials believe he fell victim to cyber kidnappers. Zhuang was located on Sunday in a tent in the mountains near Brigham City. According to the Riverdale City Police, he was found alive but in a state of fear and suffering from the cold.

Zhuang was found with minimal supplies, including a heat blanket, a sleeping bag, limited food and water, and several phones believed to have been used in the cyber kidnapping. Riverdale Police Chief Casey Warren stated that Zhuang was manipulated and controlled by cyber kidnappers who convinced him that his family in China was in danger.

The teenager’s parents had transferred $80,000 to bank accounts in China after receiving a ransom note and a photo of Zhuang, which suggested he had been kidnapped. The parents were led to believe their son was in danger due to threats from the abductors.

Zhuang was officially reported missing on Friday when the police were called to his host family’s residence, who were unaware of his absence. Police reports suggest that Zhuang left the house voluntarily. His campsite was later discovered by a search crew.

The investigation involved the Riverdale Police Department, the FBI, and the US Embassy in China. The authorities were able to trace Zhuang’s location through bank records, recent purchases, and phone records. They also took into account an incident where police in Provo were concerned for Zhuang’s wellbeing after he attempted to set up a campsite. This led them to conclude that he was likely self-isolating in the Brigham City canyon.

The FBI also alerted local authorities about other recent cyber kidnapping cases targeting Chinese exchange students. After Zhuang was found, he was able to communicate with his family in China and assure them of his safety. On his way to the Riverdale Police Department, he was treated to a warm cheeseburger.

The Riverdale Police Department has not yet responded to requests for comment on the case.