The husband of a missing Columbia woman is now charged with child abuse, after investigators found evidence during their missing person’s investigation.
Joseph Elledge, 23, of Columbia, was arrested Friday and taken to the Boone County Jail on a $500,000 bond.
Elledge appeared for his initial arraignment via camera from the Boone County Jail. Judge Tracy Gonzalez ordered a bond investigation and scheduled a bond hearing for November 6th and case review on November 26th
His attorney John O’Connor of Kansas City did not comment of the case. O’Connor said he was going to meet Elledge Monday.
Police identified the incident while investigating Elledge in regarding the “suspicious disappearance” of his wife Mengqi J. Elledge, 28, of Columbia.
Court document say a witness received a call from Mengqi in February. Mengqi told the witness she had found bruising on the child, and Joseph had denied any knowledge of the cause at the time. The witness showed police the picture Mengqi had sent.
According to court documents, officers located pictures on Mengqi’s personal tablet of bruising on the child that she had sent via email. Other photos were found, but could full size photos could not be accessed because officers believe they could have been erased.
Photos and videos of the bruising were also found on Mengqi’s laptop by investigators.
On Friday, after police read Joseph his Miranda rights, he said he may have pinched her and cause bruising or “held her to hard” to distract her from crying. Police showed Joseph the photo, and he confirmed it was the same bruise he saw.
Court documents say the injury isn’t consistent with the type of bruise that would come from a pinch or tight holding, but appears to be a bruise that would come from a strike.
The Columbia Police Department announced Friday their efforts to find Mengqi led detectives to believe foul play had a role in her disappearance.
Investigators say Joseph did not tell anyone about his wife being gone for over 24 hours, and did not report her missing to police until about a day and a half after he said she disappeared.
The court documents say during the time between when Joseph said his wife went missing and the time he made the report, he took a “long drive through unfamiliar remote areas of Missouri.”
According to police, she was last seen at her home in the 2600 block of Eastwood Drive in Columbia on the night of Oct. 8.
Check back for more on this developing story or watch ABC17 News at 5 for a full report