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Texts, photos between Elledge and Ji shown to start second week of trial


This morning the prosecution continued presenting their case against Joseph Elledge, he is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Mengqi Ji who went missing in October of 2019.

Both sides of the case spent hours going over the contents of Elledge and Ji's electronic devices reviewed by State technical assistant team investigator Jeff Adams. Prosecutor Dan Knight pointed out several texts Elledge sent Ji, including one where he said he "banished" her after an argument. Defense attorney Scott Rosenblum questioned the choices of texts. Adams said the two had sent 15,000 to 16,000 texts over several years, and some conversations and photos showed more "content" times.

The prosecution has a couple more things to go over before they hand off the floor to the defense, and this morning prosecutors called two people to the stand to discuss where Ji's body was found.

First, the prosecution called Max Lawson, a criminal investigator with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Lawson was one of the people involved in digging up and collecting Ji's remains.

Dan Knight went as far this morning to lay on the ground and have Lawson pose him in the position Ji's remains were found.

The prosecution asked several questions to Lawson about the position of the ribs and vertebrae.

Next, Doctor Christine Edwards, a botanist with Missouri Botanical Gardens was called to the witness stand.

She testified that from her findings; vegetation samples on a pair of Elledge's boots taken as evidence from his apartment, had to have come from the same location where Ji's body was found, she found various tree needles in the boots that were in the same exact and surrounding area as the remains.

During cross-examination, the defense said that Edwards does not have forensic botany experience, since the Missouri Botanical Gardens is not a forensic lab, and that in a forensic case the findings could possibly be different.

Edwards hesitantly agreed that it is possible for the findings to be different but did not think so in this case.

Case Background

Ji was reported missing to police by Elledge on Oct. 10, 2019. Elledge reported his wife had not come home the night before.

Elledge was arrested on Oct. 25 and charged with child abuse and neglect after officers found evidence of abuse to the couple's only child during Ji's missing person investigation.

During this time, law enforcement considered Elledge the primary suspect in his wife's disappearance.

Investigators then spent over a year on-and-off searching for Mengqi Ji's body in the Lamine River in Cooper County due to cell phone records from Elledge.

In February of 2020, a grand jury indicted Elledge on a charge of first-degree murder for the death of his wife.

In March of this year, a hiker at Rock Bridge State Park found human remains.

In April, the remains were confirmed to be those of Mengqi Ji through her dental records. Personal identification documents found at the scene, including her driver's license, also helped identify the remains.

Author Profile Photo

Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.

Author Profile Photo

Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.


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