Riverdale Police announced that the teen was found by detectives on Sunday evening in the mountains near Brigham City. He was very scared and cold, but relieved to see the police.
After being medically cleared, Zhuang just wanted to speak to his family to ensure they were safe and requested a warm cheeseburger, both of which he was able to do on his way back to Riverdale.
“The victim had no heat source inside the tent, only a heat blanket, a sleeping bag, limited food and water and several phones that were presumed to be used to carry out the cyber kidnapping,” they said in a statement.
Police say Zhuang was the victim of cyber kidnapping, and that he was being manipulated and controlled.
On December 28, the kidnappers sent a photo of Kai to his family in China that made it look like he was being held against his will. His family paid $80,000 after being threatened numerous times by the kidnappers.
No further details have been released at this time.
The Disappearance of Kai Zhuang
17 year old Kai Zhuang was last seen in Riverdale, Utah on December 28, 2023. Authorities initially believed he had been taken against his will, but now say he may be camping in the Wasatch Front.
Kai Zhuang is a Chinese foreign exchange student studying in Riverdale, Utah. He currently lives with a host family on Huntington Park Drive in Riverdale.
At approximately 3:30 am on December 28, 2023, Kai Zhang was last seen at his host family’s home on Huntington Park Drive in Riverdale, Utah.
Later that day Zhuang’s parents, who live in China, contacted his high school, stating they had received photos of their son making it appear as if he had been kidnapped along with a ransom demand.
When authorities arrived at his host family’s home to investigate the family was unaware he was missing.
Kai was officially reported to the Riverdale Police Department at 8:30 pm.
Officials haven’t said whether they believe the abduction involved someone who knew Kai or his host family.
Initial reports indicated Kai was being held against his will, but authorities have since changed their statements, indicating they do not believe he was forcibly taken.
The Riverdale Police Department is working with the FBI, the US embassy in China, and Chinese officials to find Kai.
In a press release issued by the Riverdale Police Department on December 30, authorities said they believe Kai may be camping along the Wasatch Front.
According to the release, Kai interacted with law enforcement in Provo on December 20 that revealed he had possession of camping gear as well as additional supplies he purchased recently. They were also able to recover surveillance footage of Kai making the purchases.
The camping gear and supplies are currently unaccounted for, leading authorities to believe he may be using it.
Due to the extreme weather conditions there is great concern for his welfare. Police are asking the public to check wooded and camping areas for any sign of Kai and contact police immediately if they spot him.