The husband of Mengqi Ji Elledge, who has been missing since October, pleaded not guilty to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of abuse or neglect of a child during his arraignment in Boone County Circuit Court on Monday.

Columbia police arrested Joseph Elledge, 24, on Oct. 25 when they allegedly found evidence of child abuse and neglect while investigating his wife's disappearance.

A grand jury earlier this month indicted Elledge on the second charge of endangering the welfare of a child, based on Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight's argument that Elledge separated his wife from their daughter.

Elledge has been held in the Boone County Jail on $500,000 bond and is the primary suspect in the criminal missing person case, although no charge has been filed.

Mengqi Ji Elledge was reported missing Oct. 9. Police and divers have been searching the Lamine River at the Highway 41 bridge for days, saying they have solid information suggesting her body might be there.

Joseph Elledge no longer has custody of his daughter. Mengqi Ji Elledge's parents, Ke Ren and Xiaolin Ji, who are from China, are in a custody dispute over the child with Jean Elledge, who is Joseph Elledge's mother.

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