EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to remove a reference to Elledge pleading not guilty to murder.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A Columbia man accused of killing his wife was in court Monday for a hearing on child abuse and domestic assault charges.
Joseph Elledge, who was indicted by a grand jury Friday on a first-degree murder charge alleging that he killed his wife was arraigned Monday on charges of child abuse, child endangerment and third-degree domestic assault.
Prosecutors filed a new indictment Friday in the abuse case.
Elledge pleaded not guilty to the child abuse, endangerment and domestic assault charges. An initial plea in the murder case was postponed until Elledge could secure a lawyer for his murder case.
The Boone County Prosecutor Attorney's Office said Friday that a grand jury had indicted Elledge on one count of first-degree murder. Prosecutors had already charged Elledge with murder on Feb. 19 but his arrest warrant on the charge had not been served.
Elledge is accused of murdering his wife, Mengqi Ji, in early October. Authorities have searched for Ji or her remains since she was reported missing but so far have not found her. Prosecutors initially charged Elledge with child abuse and endangerment for alleged crimes not directly related to Ji's disappearance before filing the murder charge last month.
Court documents indicate investigators think Elledge might have strangled his wife before dumping her body in a remote location.
Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight said it is not unusual for a case to go through a grand jury indictment after his office files charges.
Elledge will have the chance to enter a plea during the arraignment.
In a grand jury indictment, nine out of 12 grand jurors have to agree there is enough evidence to go forward with the case.
A grand jury has also indicted Elledge on charges of neglect of a child and endangering the welfare of a child in a separate case.