The sun set on MU’s Speakers Circle as family and supporters gathered Saturday for a candlelight vigil for Mengqi Ji Elledge, who has been missing for more than a month.
Mengqi was last seen at her Columbia home Oct. 8, and her husband, Joseph Elledge, reported her missing the next day. Joseph Elledge, an MU student, was arrested Oct. 25 after a criminal investigation into her disappearance uncovered evidence of child abuse and neglect.
Maternal and paternal grandparents were granted equal custody of Joseph and Mengqi Elledge’s child after a custody hearing that began Monday. The custody arrangement is temporary.
The vigil drew a groundswell of support from the Asian American community in Columbia. Those in attendance held signs to protest domestic violence and child abuse as well as signs showing support for Mengqi and her child.
Pastor Yulong Liang prayed and shared a message with participants during the vigil. Susan Zeng led a prayer hoping police will find Mengqi and for her parents to receive full custody of their grandchild.
Mengqi’s father later spoke, and translator Ling Bunch relayed his message in English. Bunch wasalso handed out candles at the beginning of the vigil.
At the conclusion, those who had gathered placed candles on the steps and sang “Amazing Grace” together.
Members of Missouri Missing attended the vigil to show support for Mengqi and her family.
“We were just here as participants tonight,” said Marianne Asher-Chapman, co-founder of Missouri Missing. “We work with a lot of families making flyers and hosting vigils, but we need the family’s approval and permission. We would love to work with the family if they wanted us to.”