Missouri resident Mengqi Ji Elledge's husband Joseph was charged with her murder and other charges for abusing their daughter.
Trigger warning: Contains details about domestic abuse and murder that may be distressing.
One woman from China, who came to the US as an international student and ended up staying after falling in love, probably thought that she's found the life of her dreams. However, her life was ended by the man who was supposed to be her life partner. The former couple had attended the University of Missouri together and married in 2017. They also have a daughter together.
Mengqi Ji Elledge had been missing since 2019 and her husband, Joseph Elledge, was charged with first-degree murder and other charges in her disappearance, as per Fox4. The Columbia resident's remains were positively identified after decomposed human remains were found at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park about 5 miles south of Columbia. The remains were found on March 25, 2021, and they were identified by April 6, 2021.
Columbia Mayor Brian Treece revealed to Fox4 that forensic experts used dental records to identify Mengqi Ji’s remains, which were found by a hunter. "I want to express to Mengqi Ji’s family members, and to their community of supporters, that we support you and your wish for justice," said the mayor.
The woman's parents live in China and they had visited the US in February 2020, hoping to bring their daughter home after she went missing. "We’ve hoped this might all be a nightmare, and we could wake up one day to see our granddaughter still in the loving arms of her mother," the parents said. "After the murder charge was filed, our hope has gone. Now we only hope justice will prevail, we pray that Joseph Elledge still has a conscience left and will tell the truth, so we can bring our daughter home," they said.
Joseph was charged in February 2020 and the grand jury replaced one of the child endangerment counts with a domestic assault count. Prosecutors said in one of the charges that the father had created "a substantial risk" to his daughter. They also speculated that he strangled his wife to avoid a costly divorce. He also wanted to ensure that she didn’t leave for China with their daughter.
She reportedly went missing on October 9 and Joseph didn't report that she was gone until the next day, when a friend went over to his house at the request of the missing woman's mother. In those 24 hours, he reportedly drove to remote areas and spent around 45 minutes at a secluded access point to the Lamine River after dark. Cadaver dogs were able to find the presence of human remains there, but law enforcement couldn't find her body then.
Only in April 2021 was Mengqi Ji's body found. Assistant Chief Jeremiah Hunter said that investigators are trying to find the cause of death. They are also unsure how long her body has been at the particular site. However, it's been there “for some time,” Police Chief Geoff Jones said. He added that that current evidence doesn't point to other suspects but they are "keeping an open mind."
"I think we’re closer to the truth than we’ve ever been, and I hope we can get there for her family," he added.
The family’s attorney, Amy Salladay, said that the woman's family finally have closure about what happened to their daughter. They are also grateful to the person who found her body. Amy added that Columbia needs to start discussing the intersection between domestic violence and racism, in this case.
Cover image source: Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition (CMSHTC)/Facebook