COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Columbia Police Department asked for hunters and land owners to help them find a woman who has been missing since the beginning of October.
Mengqi Ji Elledge went missing on Oct. 8, according to police. Her husband, Joseph Elledge, was later arrested and charged with child abuse, and prosecutors have named him as the prime suspect in Mengqi Ji's disappearance.
CPD asked that hunters participating in the deer season opening on Saturday "remain vigilant while out in the rural parts of Boone County and the surrounding areas."
Police also asked that landowners check hunting cameras during the dates of Oct. 8 to Oct. 11 for any signs of unusual activity.
Police described Mengqi Ji as a Chinese woman with brown eyes and black shoulder-length hair that she typically wears in a bun. She is about 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs about 105 pounds. She has both ears pierced but typically does not wear earrings, police said.
Marianne Asher-Chapman is co-founder of the non-profit Missouri Missing. She works with families whose family members have disappeared.
Missouri Missing does a campaign each year that encourages hunters to be on the lookout for evidence or remains.
"I know several cases that the cases were solved by outdoors people. Dog walkers, mushroom hunters, deer hunters," she said.
In a media release, police attached an image of Mengqi Elledge's purse that she may have had when she disappeared.
"If her purse is found out in the wilderness she's going to be somewhere nearby probably," Asher-Chapman said.
She said hunters may not think what a piece of clothing or an item in the woods may mean, but if they take the time to look they could solve a case like Elledge's.
"It could be the answer to some family's prayers because the not knowing where your child or your person is, it's unbearable," she said.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact CPD at 573-874-7652.
Joseph Elledge is being held in the Boone County Jail on a $500,000 bond.