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Last stretch of search for missing Columbia mother will be on land

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Columbia police have been searching for Mengqi Ji in the Lamine River outside of Boonville for more than one year.

Divers have been in the water searching for Ji's remains after she went missing in October of 2019.

Now, police are making one last effort to find any evidence that her remains are in the river before her husband, Joseph Elledge, goes to trial for murder.

On Tuesday police were pulling what remained of a levee the department built out of the river. This became possible after water levels dropped low enough to reveal the structure.

"This time the water's so low, it's significantly low, that you're able to pretty much walk out to the pier where we're searching, so we have another opportunity, another better chance and we're just taking advantage of it," said Assistant Chief Jeremiah Hunter.

The department built the levee in May of 2020 to assist in the search for Ji.

Police plan to finish pulling what is left of the levee out of the river by Wednesday.

"Tomorrow we'll be, probably getting the rest of it and hopefully all of it, the remains of the levee and then continue to search tomorrow," Hunter said.

As crews finish pulling out the levee they will fill dump trucks full of debris. Police will then search through the debris for any evidence of Ji's remains.

Police will use a K9 to detect any areas in the water where they may need to pull up rocks and other materials from the bottom of the river. Crews will then use a sifting table to look through debris that is hauled out of the river.

More than one year after Ji's disappearance, police will be searching for anything that could help solve who murdered her.

"Anything. Any evidentiary value," Hunter said.

Although police expect to be done searching the Lamine River on Wednesday they do not know exactly how long it will take to sift through what they take from the water.

Boone / Columbia / Crime / Elledge case / Homicide / News / Top Stories / Top Stories

Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.

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