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Crews continue search for missing mother 3 months after disappearance


Authorities were at the Lamine River Wednesday continuing their efforts to find Mengqi Ji Elledge three months after her disappearance.

On Wednesday, ABC17 crews saw a team of five people go out on a boat upstream around 12:30 p.m. It appeared divers were a part of that team.

The search continued until about 5 p.m. The crew appeared to be in one area of the riverbank just upstream of the access point in Cooper County.

Police could not confirm any new information or what was being done Wednesday but stood by their statement from Tuesday.

"CPD will continue its efforts to locate Mengqi Ji Elledge in the area of the Lamine River. There are no specific times or dates when operations may take place and some operations may occur on private property."

Jeff Pitts, Columbia Police Department

Mengqi Ji Elledge was last seen on Oct. 8. She was then reported missing by her husband Joseph Elledge about a day and a half later.

Joseph Elledge was arrested Oct. 25 on charges of child abuse found during the police's investigation into Mengqi Ji's disappearance.

Boone County prosecutor Dan Knight said Joseph Elledge is the prime suspect in Mengqi Ji Elledge's disappearance during a bond reduction hearing.

Boone County grand jury indicted Joseph Elledge in December on one count of abuse or neglect of a child and two counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

John O'Connor of Kansas City is representing Elledge. He filed a motion for a speedy trial for his case, which is now set for Feb. 25.

"My client is in custody which is the main reason," O'Connor said. "And frankly it's a pretty straight forward case, I mean this isn't any complicated criminal case."

A Boone County grand jury indicted Joseph Elledge Friday morning on one count of abuse or neglect of a child and two counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

In the indictment, Joseph Elledge is accused of one count of abuse and one count of endangerment for, "knowingly causing a child less than 18-year-old, to suffer physical injury as a result of abuse by grabbing or striking the child," between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12.

The other count of first-degree child endangerment, the indictment says, is because Joseph Elledge, "created a substantial risk to the life and body and health of the child, ... by separating them from Mengqi Ji."

"I don't know what they intend to mean with that charge," O'Connor said. "But looking at the indicates they are going to raise some issues about that and we'll just have to see how they intend to proceed."

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Connor Hirsch

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


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