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Missouri man charged with murdering wife who vanished in October, no body found

A Missouri man suspected in the disappearance of his wife and of abusing his 1-year-old daughter was charged Wednesday in her presumed death despite the fact that her body hasn’t been found.

Joseph Elledge, of Columbia, faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of 28-year-old Mengqi Ji, according to court records. He was already charged with endangering the welfare of a child and one count of child abuse based on evidence discovered during an investigation into his wife’s disappearance.

He reported Ji missing on Oct. 10 and said he had not seen her since late in the evening on Oct. 8, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported. Authorities have extensively searched a section of the Lamine River in Cooper County for her, KMIZ-TV reported.

This undated file photo provided by Boone County Sheriff’s Department in Columbia, Mo., shows Joseph Elledge. Prosecutors have charged Elledge, the American husband of a Chinese woman who has been missing since October, 2019, with first-degree murder in her death, even though her body hasn’t been found.  (Boone County Sheriff’s Department via AP, File)

Authorities said Elledge took a drive through unfamiliar remote areas in central Missouri before reporting Ji missing, according to a probable cause statement. They said he also deflected conversations about his missing wife and chose to play video games instead.

During a November hearing, Boone County prosecutors described Elledge as “a jealous, controlling, manipulative psychopath.”

In an audio recording played during the hearing, Elledge was heard telling Ji, “I don’t like being with you,”  “I’m going to end it” and “I’m going to bury the earth under you.” Ji is heard arguing back.

Elledge raised his voice several times during the recording and, at one point, told her, “I know you want me to hit you,” and “This, it’s not abusive.”

Mengqi Ji was last seen in October. Her husband, Joseph Elledge, has been charged in her presumed death and for allegedly abusing the couple's 1-year-old daughter. 

Mengqi Ji was last seen in October. Her husband, Joseph Elledge, has been charged in her presumed death and for allegedly abusing the couple’s 1-year-old daughter. 
(Missing Persons Cases Network )

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Ji received a master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Missouri in December 2014. She previously attended the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai.

Elledge was attending the school when he was arrested last year. He remains in police custody.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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