The husband of a Columbia woman, who has been missing since October, has a new judge overseeing his case.

Joseph Elledge, 24, who is currently in the Boone County Jail on a $500,000 cash-only bond, has been charged with child abuse and neglect and endangering the welfare of his 1-year-old daughter.

A motion filed by Elledge’s attorney Thursday requested a change of judge, according to court documents. Phone calls to Elledge's attorney and the prosecution were not returned Thursday afternoon.

Boone County Circuit Judge Jeff Harris is now presiding over the case. Previously, Boone County Associate Circuit Court Judge Tracy Gonzalez was overseeing the case.

Dan Knight, Boone County chief prosecutor, described Elledge as the “prime suspect” in the investigation of the disappearance of his wife, Mengqi Ji Elledge.

For the past several weeks, law enforcement from several agencies have been searching the Lamine River for Mengqi Elledge’s body.

The ongoing search has focused on an area under a bridge near the De Bourgmont Access point on Missouri 41 north of Interstate 70.

  • I'm a graduate from the Missouri School of Journalism and former reporter with the Missourian. Currently, I'm a working for a law firm in Dallas, Tx before beginning law school later this year. Reach me at @ByHunterGilbert on Twitter

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