Since October 2019, the Columbia Police Department has been investigating the disappearance of Mengqi Ji, who was reported missing by her husband Joseph Elledge on Oct. 10. Joseph Elledge is the key suspect in the disappearance of his wife and was indicted for first-degree murder by a Boone County grand jury on Feb. 28, 2020.
With assistance from City of Columbia Utilities, a levee was constructed at the DeBourgmont Access of the Lamine River to allow the search to extend further into the river. During the construction of the levee and the subsequent search, no evidence of Mengqi Ji’s remains was located. The search was then concluded, and CPD detectives began taking further direction from the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
"The river has been monitored since the conclusion of the search," said Assistant Police Chief Jeremiah Hunter. "Recently we’ve found the water level at the Lamine River has substantially decreased. With the water level down, we discovered part of the levee we constructed was still present," said Hunter.
City Utilities will remove the remaining parts of the levee. While Utilities is excavating the rocks from the levee, CPD’S Criminal Investigation’s Division (CID) will continue to search through the rocks/debris as the material is removed for any evidence of the missing woman.
There is still the possibility of not finding any evidence while the levee is being removed.
Columbia Police have been assisted by many local, state, federal and community organizations that have contributed funding, time and skill during extensive searches at several locations including near Ashland Lake in Boone County; Pine Ridge Recreation Campground in Callaway County, and the DeBourgmont Access.
If anyone has any information, they are encouraged to contact the Columbia Police Department at 573.874.7652 or call CrimeStoppers at 573.875.TIPS (8477) to remain anonymous. Columbia Police will refer all future inquiries to the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office, as there are no further details that can be released by CPD.
Case number: 2019-010707
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