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Vigil for Columbia woman held one month after she was reported missing

Friends and family of a missing Columbia woman gathered for a vigil Saturday, one month after she was reported missing by her husband, who is now the prime suspect in her disappearance.

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

Nearly 50 people, including Mengqi's father, gathered with candles on the University of Missouri's campus Saturday.

Ling Bunch helped organize the event, and translated for Mengqi's father when he addressed the crowd.

"I think as any parents when your child is missing whether they are an adult or underage, that is probably their biggest nightmare," Bunch said.

"We pray for justice, and peace, and safe future for (Mengqi's daughter) and Mengqi too," Bunch said.

This comes as Boone County's lead prosecutor said Wednesday Joseph Elledge is the "prime suspect in the murder of Mengqi Elledge."

Her husband is being held at the Boone County Jail on charges of child abuse. Police say they found evidence of the abuse during their missing person's investigation.

On Wednesday, Joseph Elledge was in court asking Judge Tracy Gonzalez to reduce his $500,000 bond.

She took the motion under advisement. There is no decision on the bond reduction right now, but Judge Gonzalez said Wednesday her decision would come "relatively quickly."

In court, the lead Columbia Police detective for this case, Allen Mitchell, said there is no evidence that Mengqi is alive.

Elledge's attorney, John O'Connor of Kansas City, argued there is no physical evidence tying Joseph to the disappearance of his wife.

O'Connor told ABC17 News on Saturday he had no comment.

Joseph Elledge's parents are also in a custody battle with Mengqi Elledge's parents over guardianship of their child. The families were at the Boone County Courthouse making their arguments for custody Monday and Tuesday.

Mengqi's parents' attorney, Amy Salladay said Thursday the families have reached a "very limited, short term custody arrangement," where they will share custody of the child. It's unclear how long that arrangement will last.

ABC17 News asked CPD for any update on the investigation on Thursday. The department could no provide an update.

Several people at the vigil expressed interest in a citizen's search for Mengqi, but Bunch told ABC17 that police have advised against it.

While some are calling this case a murder investigation, Bunch remains hopeful, "We want Mengqi to come back to us, and we want a safe environment for (Mengqi's daughter)."

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the department or call Crime Stoppers at 875-TIPS to remain anonymous.

Stay with ABC17 News for more on this developing story, and watch ABC17 News Saturday night after the game for a full report.

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

Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday early evening shows, as well as Saturday nights.

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