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Elledge case

Building of Lamine River levee in missing mom search begins

COOPER COUNTY, Mo.

Work began Tuesday to build a levee on the Lamine River to help in the Columbia Police Department's search for the body of a missing woman.

Watch playback of a live interview with CPD spokeswoman Brittany Hilderbrand in the player below.

The De Bourgmont Access on the Lamine River in Cooper County closed Tuesday to allow police to continue searching for missing Columbia mom, Mengqi Ji.

Joseph Elledge pleads not guilty to three felony charges.
Joseph Elledge is charged in his wife's disappearance and murder.

The Missouri Department of Conservation said in a news release that the access is temporarily closed to allow the Columbia Police Department and partner agencies to build a temporary levee on the river. The MDC expected the access to be closed for five to 10 days, but police told ABC 17 News they are prepared to be there as long as necessary.

CPD announced its plan to build the levee in a community briefing video last week.

On Tuesday police and crews were putting large rocks in the river to create the levee. Police have said the levee will allow them to get equipment farther into the water to aid in finding Ji's remains. Prior search efforts were conducted with machinery on top of the Lamine River bridge scooping debris in the river, aided by a boat below.

This plan allows for the machinery to sit directly on top of the river to make search efforts more efficient.

Ji was reported missing in October 2019. Her husband, Joseph Elledge, was indicted by a grand jury in her murder. Authorities believe he got rid of Ji's remains by leaving them in the Lamine River.

Amy Salladay, the attorney for Ji's parents, said they both saw pictures of the process of building the levee.

"They appreciate Columbia Police Department's efforts to keep them updated," Salladay said. "They are both encouraged that progress can be made but as any parent would be in this situation, very anxious."

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

Brittany Wiley

Brittany Wiley joined ABC 17 News in December 2018 as a full-time reporter. She anchors weekend morning broadcasts and reports in the early evening during the week.

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Molly Stawinoga

Molly Stawinoga is ABC 17’s weekday morning anchor and a reporter at ABC 17 News. Molly joined the news team in 2017 while studying political science, journalism and Spanish at the University of Missouri. She is originally from DeKalb, Illinois.

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