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Search for Columbia mother apparently scaled back

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The search in a Mid-Missouri river for a missing Columbia woman was scaled back Wednesday, the seventh day that crews were on the water.

Law enforcement returned to the Lamine River in Cooper County on Wednesday in the search for missing mother Mengqi Ji Elledge.

Columbia police have been basing their search efforts from the De Bourgmont access to the river. However, the number of law enforcement agents was significantly reduced on Wednesday.

"Detectives and command staff evaluate the resources needed each day and prepare for what is needed the next day," CPD officials said in an email. "Part of that evaluation process is determining what resources and personnel are going to be needed in order to accomplish the next step in the investigation."

Columbia Police Department spokesman Jeff Pitts said Tuesday that debris, visibility and getting equipment have been the main issues in this search.

We reached out to city officials to find out how much this search is costing the city. A spokesperson for the city responded saying quote "We don't have accurate numbers to provide you currently and won't for a while, at this time we are focused on following leads in an attempt to locate Mengqi Ji Elledge."

Law enforcement used an excavator with a homemade attachment hook Tuesday and Wednesday to drag the river bottom for the missing Columbia mother.

"Sounds like they got everything figured out here but they're not finding anything," said Roger Kueckelhan, who lives in the area.

Elledge has been missing since early October and her husband, Joseph Elledge is the main suspect in her disappearance, according to Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight.

Joseph Elledge is fighting felony charges of child abuse and child endangerment. His family and Mengqi Ji's family are fighting for custody of the couple's one-year-old child.

"She may be out there but it's going to be hard to find," Kueckelhan said. "It's a lot of river to be trying to be fish something out of."

Check back for more on this developing story and watch ABC 17 News at 5.

Article Topic Follows: Crime
columbia police department
Joseph Elledge
mengqi ji elledge

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Joe McLean

Joe reports stories all across mid-Missouri, including our WasteBusters series of reports, and co-anchors ABC 17 News at 9 a.m. with Zara Barker.


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