Joseph Elledge was indicted by a Boone County grand jury Friday afternoon for first-degree murder of his wife Mengqi Ji.
In a news release, Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight also said Elledge has been indicted in another case for abuse or neglect of a child, endangering the welfare of a child and third-degree domestic assault. These charges are in relation to bruising found on Elledge’s and Ji’s 1-year-old daughter, which Elledge was arrested for in October.
In a telephone interview, Knight declined to say why he sought a grand jury indictment in both cases. Knight filed a first-degree murder charge against Elledge last week.
Friday’s indictment of Elledge for third-degree domestic assault replaces a December indictment for endangering the welfare of a child.
In a Feb. 20 hearing, both Knight and Elledge’s defense attorney, John O’Connor, argued over the trial date of April 6 for the child abuse charges.
Knight told O’Connor in court that day that he would replace the charge of endangering the welfare of a child with a charge of third-degree domestic assault so trial could proceed April 6. O’Connor agreed to that change. Friday’s indictment for third-degree domestic assault makes that change official.
Elledge had been indicted on one charge of endangering the welfare of a child in December based on Knight’s argument that Elledge separated Ji from their child, according to previous Missourian reporting.
Ji’s body still has not been found.
The Columbia Police Department released a video on Facebook about their activity in the case Friday afternoon.
In a statement releasing the video, police said they will continue searching for Ji’s body.
“As weather permits, CPD plans to conduct an additional extensive ground and air search of the areas that have been identified throughout the investigation. These areas include Callaway, Boone, Howard, Randolph and Cooper counties. Although evidence supports the intensive search of the Lamine River at the Highway 41 bridge, other plans are being developed to search areas traveled by Joseph Elledge.”