The Columbia Police Department was notified that the human remains found at Rock Bridge State Park on March 25 are those of Mengqi Ji. An odontologist, who was working at the request of the Boone County Medical Examiner, compared dental records obtained by the Columbia Police Department to the dental remains found at Rock Bridge State Park.
"This is another step in a very thorough, continuing investigation that started in October 2019," said Columbia Mayor Bryan Treece. "Because Columbia Police and many other agencies never gave up, the victim is named: Mengqi Ji."
Assistant Police Chief Jeremiah Hunter notified the parents of Mengqi Ji of the positive identification of their daughter’s remains.
"From here we will continue to examine physical evidence and follow any additional investigative leads generated by the recovery of Mengqi Ji’s remains," said Assistant Chief Hunter.
Members of the Columbia Police Department have worked tirelessly following every lead that was discovered during the investigation.
"We are thankful for every agency, organization, and volunteer who assisted us during this investigation," said Police Chief Geoff Jones. "Their commitment demonstrated that this case is not just about the investigation, but about our community healing. There are other families of violent crimes suffering, and we continue to work their cases. We ask for the public’s help in solving those crimes."
At approximately 5:45 p.m. on October 10, 2019 Joseph Elledge reported his wife Mengqi Ji missing. He reported having last seen her on October 8 at approximately 11:30 p.m., when she went to bed. Elledge reported that when he woke up Wednesday, Oct. 9 at approximately 5 a.m., she was gone. He waited approximately a day and a half to report her as missing.
During the investigation, Columbia Police detectives located evidence of child abuse for the child that Elledge and Mengqi Ji shared. Detectives found probable cause to arrest Elledge for child abuse, and he was remanded to the custody of the Boone County Jail. (Case 2019-011282)
As the investigation for Mengqi Ji continued, detectives learned Elledge had visited several conservation areas surrounding Boone County prior to reporting her to CPD as a missing person. Moving forward, extensive aerial and ground searches were conducted near Ashland Lake and the Pine Ridge Recreation Campground.
Detectives were able to track the route he took from his cellular phone and learned there was one specific location where he spent more time than at any of the other locations. This location was identified as the De Bourgmont Access of the Lamine River at Hwy 41, just outside of Boonville in Cooper County.
Using the location history of his phone, detectives learned that he was at the De Bourgmont Access for approximately 45 minutes.
Joseph Elledge was indicted for murder in the first degree by a grand jury on February 28, 2020 in Boone County, where he remains remanded to the Boone County Jail.
As the investigation continued, Columbia Police learned at approximately 1 p.m. on March 25, 2021 that Missouri State Park Rangers were notified by a hiker who located possible human remains while in Rock Bridge State Park. Columbia Police detectives responded to the area and helped the Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control (DDCC) process the scene.
While processing the scene, several items were located and found to be consistent with items that reportedly belonged to Mengqi Ji.
This is an ongoing investigation. More information may become available at a later time.
If you know something, say something. Columbia Police are asking for your help. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to please contact the Columbia Police Department at 573.874.7652 or CrimeStoppers at 573.875.TIPS (8477) to remain anonymous.
Case number 2019-010707
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