Joseph Elledge was accused on Wednesday of first-degree murder at the death of his wife
The American husband of a Chinese woman has been accused of first-degree murder in her death, although her body was found no more than four months after her disappearance.
Joseph Elledge reported his 28-year-old wife Mengqi Ji no more than 36 hours after she was last seen in their home in Columbia, Missouri on the evening of October 8, and prosecutors say in the hours after he visited rural areas where he could have thrown a body away.
Ji’s parents said they had been trying to contact Elledge and his mother since 8 October when their daughter stopped responding to them. They usually had daily conversations on the phone.
Elledge says he last saw his wife around 11.30 am on October 8. He had given her a massage with her lying on her stomach and him on her back. A likely cause filed on Wednesday suggested that he might have strangled or choked her deliberately.
Authorities have not found the victim’s blood in Elledge’s house or vehicle, but note that the methods of killing are “relatively bloodless, silent.”
Elledge claims that he woke up on October 9 and found her. He spent time playing video games and contacted his mother and a friend without reporting that she was missing, although her disappearance was unusual, according to a statement.
He didn’t say he didn’t know where she was until one of her friends came to the house the next day at the request of her parents.
At that time, he put his wife’s mother on a video call and told her that Ji was missing and then started contacting her friends to see if they knew where she was. None of her family or friends have been in contact with Ji since she went missing and there was no activity on her financial accounts.
In the hours after his wife disappeared, Elledge made two trips with the couple’s one-year-old daughter to the countryside and to a popular cycling and walking trail with access to the Lamine River at Boonville. “These locations are places where a body can be thrown away and cannot be placed for a while,” the statement says.
Mengqi Ji. Elledge (right) was missing in October. Elledge (left) was accused of child threats and abuse of a child in November and their one-year-old (on the photo) grandparents of mothers and paternal grandparents now share custody
Elledge visited rural areas where he could throw away a body in the hours after his wife disappeared. Authorities are looking for the body of Ji in the Lamine River near Boonville. Two dogs from the police cadaver warned of the presence of human dissolution in the river
Two police cadaver dogs later warned of the presence of human dissolution in the river. The area has been searched several times with different methods, but the ‘complicated nature’ of the area has prevented an extensive search.
While in the countryside, Elledge did not leave a note for his wife, locked the door, and took the key to her apartment when he left their house. “Joseph had no plans for Mengqi to return while he was away,” the statement says.
The phone records from Elledge show that he drove to that river about 45 minutes after his wife went missing, the statement says.
He reported her missing on 10 October. The next day, his mother Jean Elledge finally answered phone calls to Ji’s parents who claimed that her phone app had been out for two days.
In December 2014, Ji obtained a master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Missouri. She previously attended East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai.
Her mother told the police that Elledge was a controlling husband who did not allow Ji to live a social life and would be upset if she left home for journeys that he thought were too long.
Elledge was quickly named as the main suspect in her disappearance and was already accused of child threat and abuse of a child.
Family heard that she was missing after asking a friend to check her house in Missouri
Her mother told the police that Elledge was controlling, would not allow Ji to live a social life and be upset if she left the house for long journeys. But he did not mention the unusual disappearance in a conversation with his mother within the first 24 hours
Recordings of conversations between the couple before Ji disappeared showed him “openly hostile and sometimes threatening to Ji.” At one point in June 2019, he said, “I’m ready to talk to you forever,” and in August he said he wanted a divorce
He was arrested on October 25 when he tried to leave Columbia with his child and his mother, Jean Elledge. Jean claimed that they are preparing to spend the weekend in Blue Springs, where she has a home. He was imprisoned on $ 500,000 bonds.
During the months that Ji was missing, the authorities heard that the couple’s relationship had been broken after allegedly beating their daughter. His wife took pictures and videos of her injuries at the time, but then decided not to go to the police.
After she was missing, someone reported the abuse and was arrested.
Their toddler’s grandparents and paternal grandparents now share custody following a hearing in November.
In the explanation of the probable cause, detectives were told that Joseph Elledge was abusing the toddler by beating her buttocks hard enough to cause severe bruising in February.
The girl’s mother wanted to contact the police, but gave Elledge another chance after he promised he would never do it again. However, she sent another person a photo of the bruises and officers investigating the iPad’s photos and videos of the bruises on the iPad.
The sworn statement said that Joseph Elledge told officers that he had bruised the girl months earlier and initially said he did not know how it happened. He later told officers that the girl was crying and would not stop. The bruises may have been caused by pinching the girl to distract her or holding her too hard, Elledge told the police.
But the authorities said the yellow, purple, and blue bruises looked like a strike.
After the parents had flown to Missouri and applied for custody, a November statement stated that “they are confused by Jean Elledge’s actions” after she avoided them and then tried to get custody of the child.
He reported her missing on 10 October. The next day his mother Jean Elledge (photo) finally answered the phone calls to Ji’s parents who claimed that her phone app had been out for two days. Joseph was arrested on October 25 after he and Jean tried to leave the state with the child
“Jean Elledge continues to withhold information from Mengqi’s parents and has not informed them of the pending custody case over their granddaughter,” the statement said.
Prosecutors said that Elledge divorced his wife from their one-year-old daughter and that the divorce represented “a significant risk” for the girl.
In November, he also became the prime suspect in Ji’s disappearance.
Columbia police spokesman Steven Sapp said earlier that the police heard the couple had problems when Joseph Elledge revealed it during an interview with the camera with KRCG TV. In the interview, Elledge described his wife as a loving mother, but said “we have grown rather distant in recent months.”
Recordings of conversations between the couple before Ji disappeared showed him “openly hostile and sometimes threatening to Ji.” At one point in June 2019, he said, “I’m ready to talk to you forever,” and in August he said he wanted a divorce, according to the statement.
In one of the four audio tapes played in court by the couple arguing, the University of Missouri student heard he wanted to divorce “the sooner the better.”
In the recordings, you can hear Joseph Elledge say, “I don’t like being with you,” “I’d like to end it,” and “I’ll bury the earth beneath you.”
Mengqi Ji Elledge can also be heard arguing with her husband, who raised his voice several times. At one point he said to her, “I know you want me to hit you,” and “This is not offensive.”
Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight said at a hearing that Elledge is a “jealous, controlling, manipulative psychopath,” the Columbia Missourian reported.
The defense, meanwhile, argued that Joseph Elledge’s bond should be reduced, and said Mengqi Ji Elledge had exchanged sexually explicit messages with another person. Nothing was said during the hearing about the reports.
A police detective clarified that agents had not yet gone through the Mengqi Ji’s phone, which the police had found in the couple’s apartment with her wallet, laptop, and passport after her disappearance.
By mid-November, Elledge had still not been charged, and when the deer firearm season began, police warned hunters to remain vigilant while in the countryside.
At the beginning of December the police temporarily stopped the search for Ji.
In one of the four audio tapes played in court by the couple arguing, the University of Missouri student heard he wanted to divorce “the sooner the better.” At one point he said to her, “I know you want me to hit you,” and “This is not offensive.”
Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight said during a hearing that Elledge is a “jealous, controlling, manipulative psychopath”
Their toddler’s grandparents (photo) and paternal grandparents now share custody after a hearing in November. “Jean Elledge continues to withhold information from Mengqi’s parents and has not informed them of the pending custody case over their granddaughter,” said a statement
After the charges, Amy Salladay, Ji’s family attorney, said the family was “very supportive” for Boone County’s decision to file the charge instead of waiting for her body to be found.
“I spent a lot of time with the family yesterday. They support Dan Knight’s decision to file these charges. They understand the risks associated with double danger, but they also need a solution for their granddaughter and they are confident that Mr. Knight has carefully considered all factors related to filing the case, “Salladay said.
Salladay said the Ji family has appreciated Columbia police searches so far, but fears that there is no clear plan for further search efforts. She said the family would rather have a multidisciplinary team that works together and benefits from all the professional volunteers who have offered their help.
“Although they appreciate the Columbia Police Department’s search efforts, they continue to worry that the police have not formulated a clear plan for further search efforts,” Salladay continued.
“They would like the Columbia Police Department to work with a multidisciplinary law enforcement team from various agencies and benefit from all volunteers who have assisted with this issue.
“They believe that if the Columbia Police Department took advantage of all the professional volunteers who provided assistance, the financial burden on the county would be reduced and that solution could be achieved.”
Prosecutors have requested a $ 5 million cash-only bond for Elledge.
His child abuse process is scheduled for February 25.
A call to the Elledge office after hours to ask for comments was not immediately returned.
ABUSE OF JOSEPH ELLEDGE CHILD AND KILLS
February 2019: Elledge allegedly beats his toddler by beating her buttocks hard enough to cause serious bruises. The girl’s mother wants to contact the police, but gives Elledge another chance after he promised he would never do it again.
She sends another person a photo of the bruises and photos and videos are made on her iPad.
June 2019: Elledge says to his wife, “I’m ready to talk to you forever” as part of a series of conversations in which he is “openly hostile and sometimes threatening to Ji.”
August 2019: He tells Ji he wants a divorce.
June 2019: Elledge tells his wife “I’m ready to talk to you forever” as part of a series of conversations in which he is “openly hostile and sometimes threatening to Ji”
October 8: The last known appearance of Mengqi Ji is 11.30 a.m.
October 9: Joseph Elledge wakes up and finds her missing, but plays video games and does not mention that she has disappeared in a telephone conversation with his mother.
Elledge takes two trips with the couple’s one-year-old daughter to the countryside. It includes a popular cycling and walking path with access to a river whose telephone data show that it stayed for 45 minutes.
He leaves no note for his wife, closes the door and takes the key to her apartment.
October 10: Ji’s parents send a friend to check her home. Elledge video calls Ji’s parents and contacts her friends to see if they knew where she is.
11 October: His mother, Jean Elledge, calls back to Ji’s parents and claims that her phone app had been out for two days.
October 18th: A woman tells the police about the images of child abuse.
October 25: Joseph Elledge is arrested for child abuse during an attempt to leave Columbia with his child and his mother, Jean Elledge.
October 28: Elledge is accused of child threat and abuse of a child.
the 4th of November: Ke Ren and Xiaolin Ji serve custody of the child and, in an agreement that Joseph cannot have contact with the young person, share custody with paternal grandparents.
November 6: Elledge is mentioned as the main suspect in her disappearance and authorities no longer believe she is alive.
Defense asked for a $ 500,000 bond reduction and claimed that Ji had exchanged sexually explicit messages with another person.
December 3: The search for Ji is temporarily interrupted.
February 19: Elledge is accused of the murder of Ji.