COLUMBIA, MO (KCTV) — According to the police department, the human remains found at Rock Bridge State Park in Columbia have been identified as those of a Chinese woman who has been missing since Oct. 2019.
According to the Columbia Police Department, the body was positively identified as that of Mengqi Ji via dental records.
“This is another step in a very thorough, continuing investigation that started in October 2019,” said Columbia Mayor Bryan Treece. “Because Columbia Police and many other agencies never gave up, the victim is named: Mengqi Ji.”
“From here we will continue to examine physical evidence and follow any additional investigative leads generated by the recovery of Mengqi Ji’s remains,” said Assistant Police Chief Jeremiah Hunter, who notified Ji’s parents her remains had been identified.
“There are other families of violent crimes suffering, and we continue to work their cases,” said Police Chief Geoff Jones. “We ask for the public’s help in solving those crimes.”
Ji was first reported missing back on the evening of Oct. 10, 2019 by her husband Joseph Elledge. He said he had last seen her on the night of Oct. 8, 2019 when she went to bed and that she was missing when he woke up on Oct. 9.
During their investigation, Columbia police found evidence that a child Ji and Elledge shared had been abused. “Detectives found probable cause to arrest Elledge for child abuse, and he was remanded to the custody of the Boone County Jail,” a release from the police said.
Police also found that Elledge had visited multiple conservation areas surrounding Boone County in the time before he reported Ji as a missing person.
During the investigation, police used the location history of his phone and were able to find that he spent time in one specific location more than anywhere else: the De Bourgmont Access of the Lamine River at Highway 41. He spend 45 minutes there, police say.
Joseph Elledge was indicted for first-degree murder by a grand jury on Feb. 28, 2020 in Boone County. He remains remanded to the Boone County Jail.
The investigation continued and police were notified on March 25, 2021 by park rangers that a hiker had located possible human remains while at Rock Bridge State Park.
While processing the scene, several items were found that were consistent with items that reportedly belonged to Ji.
As previously stated, dental records have now identified those remains as Ji’s.
The investigation is ongoing.
Columbia police are asking anyone who knows anything to call the police department at 573-874-7652, or reach out to CrimeStoppers at 573-875-TIPS (8477) to remain anonymous.
According to the Associated Press, “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.”
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