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Short-term arrangement reached in custody battle over missing woman’s child


The attorney for the parents of a missing Columbia woman said Thursday they have reached a "very limited, short term agreement" in the custody battle over their grandchild.

Mengqi Elledge's and the family of her husband, Joseph Elledge, are each trying to get custody of the couple's daughter. A set of hearings was held in the case this week, with supporters of Mengqi Elledge's family posting up outside the courthouse with signs.

Mengqi Elledge went missing last month.

In an email to ABC17 News, Amy Salladay, who represents the parents of Mengqi Elledge, said the two families decided to share joint custody in a short-term agreement. It is unclear how long that agreement is set to last.

"(Mengqi's parents) do not believe that it is in this child's best interests to continue this arrangement indefinitely or on a permanent basis," Salladay wrote in the email.

"They continue to be concerned about Jean Elledge's knowledge regarding Mengqi," Salladay said. "And that she has not been fully forthcoming with information she has related to Mengqi's disappearance." 

Jean Elledge is Joseph Elledge's mother.

Joseph Elledge, 24 was arrested and charged with child abuse or neglect in October after officers allegedly found evidence of abuse during their missing person's investigation centered on his wife. Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight said during court Wednesday that Joseph Elledge is now the prime suspect in the disappearance and "probable murder" of his wife, though he has not been charged with any crime related to her disappearance.

Mengqi Ji Elledge, 28, went missing Oct. 8. Joseph Elledge reported her missing a day and a half after she allegedly didn't come home.

Mengqi's parents did not attend the bond reduction hearing Wednesday. Salladay said the parents were told in advance Knight would be using words such as "death investigation" and "probable murder" during testimony, because there is no proof of life for their daughter since Oct. 8.

"This was overwhelming for them because as parents, it is very hard to hear these words spoken out loud and to face the reality that their daughter is never coming back," Salladay said. "They chose not to come to the bond reduction hearing yesterday because of their overwhelming grief."

Judge Tracy Gonzalez took the bond request under advisement Wednesday, and has not made a decision whether to reduce Elledge's $500,000 bond.

Check back for more on this developing story or watch ABC 17 News at 6.

Boone / Child Abuse / Columbia / Court and Trials / Crime / Elledge case / Missing Person / Top Stories

Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.


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