COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A Boone County grand jury indicted Joseph Elledge Friday morning on one count of abuse or neglect of a child and two counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child.
In the indictment, Joseph Elledge is accused of one count of abuse and one count of endangerment for, "knowingly causing a child less than 18-year-old, to suffer physical injury as a result of abuse by grabbing or striking the child," between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12.
The other count of first-degree child endangerment, the indictment says, is because Joseph Elledge, "created a substantial risk to the life and body and health of the child, ... by separating them from Mengqi Ji."
"I'm not aware of any cases where someone's been charged with a crime such as endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree by separating a mother from a child," said Knight. "I'm just not aware of that ever occurring."
Joseph Elledge is the husband of Mengqi Ji Elledge, a Columbia woman who has been missing since early October, and the prime suspect in her disappearance, according to Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight. Authorities believe Mengqi Ji Elledge is dead, and Knight has called her disappearance a murder.
The search for Mengqi Ji's body at the Lamine River in Cooper County entered its 10th day Friday. The search involves multiple agencies including the Columbia Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Joseph Elledge's lawyer has said he is not the only potential suspect in his wife's disappearance.
An arraignment is scheduled to take place Monday at 1:30 p.m. in Boone County court.