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Search for Mengqi Ji Elledge continues into seventh day


CORRECTION: The date Mengqi Ji Elledge went missing was incorrect because of a source error.

Authorities were back at the De Bourgmont access on the Lamine River on Tuesday to search for a missing Columbia mother. Columbia Police Department spokesman Jeff Pitts said the search for Elledge will start up again Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Video of a news conference with a police spokesman is available in the player below.

Tuesday was the sixth-day dive teams have gone into the river to find Mengqi Ji Elledge's body or evidence connected with her disappearance. Her husband, Joseph Elledge, is jailed on child abuse charges and Boone County's lead prosecutor has labeled him a prime suspect in Mengqi Ji's murder.

Meanwhile, a custody battle over Mengqi Ji and Joseph Elledge's child continues between Mengqi Ji's and Joseph's parents.

Columbia police said Friday that a large amount of debris around a bridge piling was slowing the search and that they needed more equipment to clear the detritus.

"We have been using a grappling hook of sort to help get some of the debris off of the bed of the river," Pitts said today. "That has been one of the struggles in the searching for Mengqi Ji Elledge."

Timeline of events tied to Mengqi Ji Elledge's disappearance

  • Oct. 8, Mengqi Ji Elledge was last seen in her home.
  • Oct. 10, Joseph Elledge reported Mengqi Ji missing.
  • Oct. 26, the Columbia Police Department arrested Joseph Elledge on a possible child abuse charge.
  • Oct. 29, Joesph Elledge was charged with one count of child abuse.
  • Nov. 6, Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight calls Joseph Elledge the "prime suspect" in Mengqi Ji Elledge's disappearance and possible murder.
  • Nov. 10, Mengqi Ji Elledge's friends and family hold a vigil for the missing mother.
  • Nov. 15, CPD ask for hunters and farmers' help locating Mengqi Ji Elledge.
  • Nov. 18, Joseph Elledge is charged with a second child abuse charge.
  • Nov. 26, Authorities begin the search at the Lamine River in Cooper County.
  • Dec. 5, A change of judge is granted in the case.
  • Dec. 10, the search at the Lamine River continues.

"We will reevaluate as time goes on the search based on the river condition, the weather condition and so on," Pitts said.

For more coverage of the search click here.

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

Boone / Child Abuse / Columbia / Columbia Video / Cooper / Court and Trials / Crime / Missing Person / News / Top Stories / Video
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Zach Boetto

Zach Boetto anchors the weekend morning and weekday 9 a.m. & noon newscasts for ABC 17. You can find up-to-the-minute information on Zach’s social media, @ABC17Zach on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.



  1. You need to correct your above timeline, as Joe Elledge did not report Mengqi missing on the 9th. Joe went to the Columbia Police Department at 3:30 pm on October 10 to report her missing AFTER a friend of Mengqi’s went to his apartment because Joe refused to take calls from anyone who was looking for her. The friend went there with Mengqi’s parent’s on a video call because both Joe and Jean had been ignoring their calls, and ONLY AFTER THIS ON THE 10th of October did he finally report her missing. This is an important detail, and it is not the first time this station has misreported this fact which came out in both the probable cause statement and the bond reduction hearing!!!

    1. Thanks for letting us know. We’ve gotten that date from Columbia Police Department news releases and interviews we’ve done, but you’re right — court documents say the 10th. We’re working to straighten this out and confirm the date with CPD.

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