While investigating, Columbia Police detectives found evidence of child abuse of the couple’s child. Elledge was arrested on suspicion of child abuse.
“Detectives learned Elledge had visited several conservation areas surrounding Boone County prior to reporting her to CPD as a missing person,” Columbia Police said.
Aerial and ground searches were conducted near Ashland Lake and the Pine Ridge Recreation Campground, police said.
Detectives tracked Elledge’s movements from his cellphone “and learned there was one specific location where he spent more time than at any of the other locations,” identified as the De Bourgmont Access of the Lamine River at Hwy 41. He spent about 45 minutes at that location.
On February 28, 2020, Joseph Elledge was indicted for first-degree murder by a Boone County grand jury.
Columbia Police said about 1 p.m. on March 25, 2021, Missouri State Park Rangers were notified by a hiker who located possible human remains while in Rock Bridge State Park. Investigators at the scene located several items and found items belonging to Mengqi Ji.
The hiker in the park came across skeletal remains, clothing, a driver's license, and a credit card with the name Mengqi Ji Elledge, the Associated Press reports.
The Boone County Medical Examiner’s Office identified Mengqi Ji by her dental records.