COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Less than a month before Mengqi Ji went missing in October, the Columbia mother called her friend, Muzhen Li, to complain about a fight she was having with her husband, Joseph Elledge.
"At that time, I did not take it seriously," Li said. "I was like, 'Are you kidding me? Your child is only 1 year old, and right now you're having a conflict about her education?'"
Li said that phone exchange in September was the last contact she had with Ji, a woman she had always described as happy and care-free.
"She's a very nice person, very kind," Li said. "She gets along well with everyone, she loves smiling."
Li is studying a different engineering discipline than Ji was, but she said the two met several times and became friends. Li said she also met Ji's husband, Joseph Elledge, on multiple occasions and described their relationship as seemingly normal.
"That's all before Mengqi gave birth to her baby because, to be honest, after Mengqi gave birth to her baby, I seldom met her," Li said.
Elledge was charged with first-degree murder on Wednesday. Court documents show that investigators think Elledge might have killed Ji under the pretense of giving her a massage.
The news of Ji's disappearance came as a shock to friends and family, according to Li. She said they're all desperate for resolution.
Authorities have extensively searched a section of the Lamine River in Cooper County looking for her body.
"I can't say I have any hope. I just want to have a result," Li said. "We just need to find her at least."