Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight added a charge of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree against the husband of a missing Columbia woman.

Joseph Elledge was charged with child abuse and neglect of his 1-year-old daughter last month. Prosecutors filed the amended complaint against him Monday.

The revised complaint alleges that he grabbed or struck a child that is younger than 17 years old sometime between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12.

The child's initials in the complaint match those of his daughter.

Joseph Elledge's wife, Mengqi Ji Elledge, was reported missing Oct. 9. Law enforcement asked for hunters' and landowners' help last Friday in attempting to aid in the search for her.

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.

Joseph Elledge no longer has custody of his child and has been held at the Boone County Jail since he was arrested Oct. 25, and a temporary arrangement granting equal custody to the child's maternal and paternal grandparents has been agreed to by the families.

Anyone with any information or evidence regarding Mengqi Ji Elledge should immediately dial 911 to contact the nearest law enforcement agency or call the Columbia Police Department at 573-874-7652 or, to remain anonymous, CrimeStoppers at 573-875-TIPS (8477).

  • Investigative and courthouse reporter. I am a senior pre-law student studying data journalism at The University of Missouri's School of Journalism. Reach me at or @ByHunterGilbert on Twitter

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