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Elledge case

Columbia police to build levee on Lamine River to find missing Columbia woman

Searchers in boat
ABC 17 News
Searchers head out on a boat on the Lamine River looking for the remains of Mengqi Ji Elledge on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Columbia Police Department announced Wednesday it will work with local and state partners to build a levee at the Lamine River to help in the search for a missing woman.

Police have been searching the river for months in an effort to find Mengqi Ji's remains after cadaver dogs found signs of human decomposition.

The police department made a community briefing video going over the details for the levee.

"We have a professional, ethical and moral obligation to find Mengqi Ji. She can no longer speak for herself, and there is a man charged with murder, so our efforts will have a profound impact on the lives of many," Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones said.

Ji was reported missing back in October. Her husband, Joseph Elledge, was indicted with first-degree murder on Feb. 28 after Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight filed the charges against him.

Knight had previously named Elledge as the primary suspect in Ji's disappearance.

A probable cause statement filed in the murder case alleges Elledge may have strangled Ji before dumping her body in the Lamine River near Boonville.

The Missing Person Support Center recently posted to its Facebook page that it was raising money to help the police department pay for the project.

The levee will cost around $50,000 and will be paid for by the city, Boone County and the Missing Person Support Center.

Amy Salladay is an attorney representing Ji's family.

"Their primary goal is wanting their daughter's remains to be recovered and they're confident the Columbia Police Department is looking in the right place and that they're doing everything that they can in order to help recover those remains," Salladay said.

Salladay said on top of providing a sense of closure to Ji's family, if the department were to find a body it would also make a stronger case in court.

"To me what's unusual about this case is that we seem to know where she's at but we can't physically get to her," she said.

Salladay said anyone can help pay for the search for Ji by donating to the Missing Person Support Center.

Darrow Wenom works for Silver Fin Solutions, a non-profit organization that works to battle the Silver Carp problem in inland river systems.

"I was called to come up here and look the area over over here and just kind of give an expert opinion on nets, possibly putting a net around the structure and kind of looking at the currents and what they have to deal with," Wenom said.

Wenom will help put a net up to catch any debris as the levee is built.

"They're a seine net, it's a very small mesh so it will catch anything," he said. "I mean we even catch sunglasses with these nets."

Wenom said he is confident the departments working to find Ji are onto something and will be able to provide some closure for her family.

"I feel that it's a good plan. It's going to break the current where they can get in there and actually go through everything and have the best chance of finding her," he said.

ABC 17 News crews have also reached out to Elledge's attorney and are waiting on a response.

Boone / Columbia / Cooper / Crime / Email Alert – Breaking News / Homicide / Missing Person / News / Top Stories

Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.

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