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Prosecutor hopes Ji death raises awareness for domestic violence resources

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Boone County prosecutor Dan Knight said he felt acquainted with Mengqi Ji after spending two years trying to get her justice.

Knight said he watched several videos of Ji in the time he spent prosecuting her husband, Joseph Elledge, for killing her. Knight said it was clear Ji was a loving mother that would protect her daughter, Anna. He said he had a theory for why a Boone County jury recommended Elledge spend 28 years in prison specifically for his second-degree murder conviction.

"I think it's because that was Mengqi's age at the time she was killed," Knight said.

Knight said the work on the case made him think about the availability and awareness of resources for those in violent relationships. The turbulence of Ji and Elledge's relationship played a central part in Knight's case that Elledge deliberately killed her in Oct. 2019. Recorded arguments between the two showed them arguing over marital and relationship problems, with Elledge insulting her for perceived lack of respect.

Knight mentioned True North, a shelter and resource center that provides help to people going through intimate partner violence.

Knight said he wondered if the engineering student originally from China was just unaware of resources in Boone County to possibly help her leave the relationship.

"She was here from China," Knight said. "She had only lived her for only maybe was it seven years at the time of her death. She was a student at the time. And I've got to think she just wasn't aware that she might've been able to get help somewhere. It's just such a horrible tragedy."

The horrible nature of what happened was also not lost on Elledge's family. Jean Geringer, Joseph's mother, spoke during the penalty phase of the case late Thursday night.

"It's very disturbing, it's heartbreaking," Geringer said of Joseph's behavior. "It's just so out of his character."

"And how do you feel about the loss of Mengqi?" defense attorney Scott Rosenblum asked her.

"Horrible. I miss her dearly," Geringer said.

You can reach True North's crisis hotline at 573-875-1370 or toll free at 1-800-548-2480.

Lucas Geisler

Lucas Geisler anchors the 5 p.m. show for ABC 17 News and reports on the latest news around mid-Missouri at 9 and 10 p.m.

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