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Prosecutor says vegetation on boots puts Elledge at site where wife’s body was found

Prosecutor says vegetation on boots puts Elledge at site where wife's body was found

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Vegetation found on the boots of a Columbia man accused of killing his wife ties him to the site where her body was discovered, Boone County's top prosecutor said Thursday.

Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight told Judge Brouck Jacobs during a hear in Joseph Elledge's case that experts at the Missouri Botanical Garden matched juniper needles on Elledge's boots to the spot where his wife Mengqi Ji's body was found. A hiker discovered her remains off a trail in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in October and identified them in April.

Knight said phone records also put Elledge at the site where Ji's body was found.

Elledge reported Ji missing Oct. 10, 2019. Elledge told police he last saw her on Oct. 8, 2019. Prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in April 2020.  Police have theorized that Elledge strangled Ji and left her body in the park because they found no blood left behind at their apartment.

Thursday's hearing was set for Jacobs to consider a motion by Elledge's lawyer, Scott Rosenblum, to delay the trial after he received "voluminous" records from prosecutors.

Two recent letters show Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight has sent defense attorneys Missouri State Highway Patrol lab reports as well as reports from Dr. Christine Edwards and Dr. Alex Linan.

The defense says the material in the reports includes soil science, meteorology and plant sciences.

Jacobs denied the motion.

Mengqi Ji
A photo of Mengqi Ji, who was last seen Oct. 8, 2019.

Another hearing in the case is set for Oct. 22. Elledge's trial is scheduled to start Nov. 1.

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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Ben Fein

Ben Fein is a multimedia journalist for ABC 17 News. You can usually see his reports on weekend mornings or weekdays at 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. on KMIZ.

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