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Court documents reveal additional details of days leading to Mengqi Ji Elledge disappearance

Mengqi Ji and Joseph Elledge
Mengqi Ji and Joseph Elledge

EDITOR'S NOTE: Law enforcement has referred to Mengqi Ji as Mengqi Ji Elledge. An attorney for her family said Thursday that she never took her husband's last name.


New court documents show that investigators think Joseph Elledge might have killed his wife under the pretense of giving her a massage.

A live update on the murder and child abuse cases can be viewed in the player below.

Elledge was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in connection with the disappearance of Menqi Ji, who was last seen Oct. 8. Authorities have extensively searched a section of the Lamine River in Cooper County looking for her body.

A second probable cause statement filed in the case late Wednesday added details about how authorities believe Joseph Elledge killed his wife. Police wrote that they believe he could have strangled her.

According to the new statement, Joseph Elledge gave his wife a massage on the evening of Oct. 8. Joseph Elledge told police that Mengqi Ji was on her stomach, and he was on top of her back while giving the massage. This would have put Mengqi Ji in a compromising position without many options for defending herself, according to the probable cause statement.

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Authorities stated in court documents that intentional strangulation and suffocation are "relatively bloodless, silent" acts of crime. No blood was found in a search of Joseph Elledge's apartment, vehicle or in Menqi Ji's vehicle.

Joseph Elledge told Columbia police he woke up the next morning, and Mengqi Ji was gone, according to the statement.

Investigators say they searched the couple's phone records and found conversations that suggested the two were having marital issues.

Joseph Elledge made threatening comments to Mengqi Ji in those conversations and threatened to keep their child if Mengqi Ji was deported to China, court documents say.

"You're still just a woman and there's nature in that. There's nature in your brain ... You're poking the bull. Don't poke the bull," Joseph Elledge allegedly said in one of the conversations."

The new details in the case came in addition to details filed in court Wednesday. Cellphone data showed that Joseph Elledge drove to the Boonville area on Oct. 9 and that the phone was in the area of the Lamine River for about 45 minutes, according to an initial probable cause statement filed in the case. Police also allege Joseph Elledge lied about the route he took on one of the trips, "which took him to an area that included a secluded river access point after dark."

Joseph Elledge has been in the Boone County Jail since October on child abuse and child endangerment charges. His bond is set at $500,000 cash-only in that case. His attorney, John O'Connor, has maintained his client's innocence and suggested authorities have ignored another possible suspect in the case.

Joseph Elledge was in court for a hearing in the child abuse case Thursday morning. O'Connor declined to comment after the hearing.

Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight is seeking a $5 million bond on the murder charge.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Article Topic Follows: Crime
columbia police department
Joseph Elledge
lamine river
mengqi ji elledge
missing mom
Missing woman

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Madison Fleck

Madison Fleck is the content editor for ABC 17 News.


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