Search continues Thursday for missing woman; Joseph Elledge requests judge change

8 months 3 days 20 hours ago Thursday, December 05 2019 Dec 5, 2019 Thursday, December 05, 2019 12:49:00 PM CST December 05, 2019 in News
By: Columbia Missourian Staff
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COLUMBIA - The search of the Lamine River for the body of Mengqi Ji Elledge entered its third consecutive day on Thursday.

Authorities have been focusing the search efforts on an area under a bridge near the De Bourgmont Access point on Missouri 41 north of I-70.

The search effort has included boats, a crane and divers to move debris away from the bridge supports and search underwater areas. Some preliminary searching with boats and divers also occurred in the same area last week.

Also today, Joseph Elledge requested a change of judge in his current court hearings on child abuse and child endangerment. 

Without saying why, Columbia Police Department officials have expressed confidence that they are targeting the appropriate spot on the river in their effort to find the woman who has been missing since early October.

As in the other days this week, several boats were put into the water around midmorning from the access area where police vehicles were stationed and began to search.

The crane stationed on the bridge has been used to move debris from around the bridge supports and other areas in the river, allowing search boats and divers to search those areas more thoroughly.

Agencies involved in the search operation included the Columbia Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Patrol UnitDivision, the Cooper County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Aviation Administration and Missouri Task Force 1.

The public access area at the river has been closed to allow room for a staging area for diving equipment and other police and official vehicles involved in the search. Reporters are able to observe from a roped off area in the staging area but have been kept back from the bridge.

Law enforcement had searched portions of the Lamine River last week. The area is of interest because of several leads police developed about her disappearance, including information obtained from her husband, Joseph Elledge, who is a suspect in the case.

Joseph Elledge told detectives during an interview that he had taken a drive through rural areas of surrounding counties on the day of his wife’s disappearance.

Last month, law enforcement asked hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts operating in rural areas of Boone County and surrounding areas to report anything that might be related to the case.

Anyone with information is asked to call Columbia Police at (573) 874-7652 or+, to remain anonymous,+ CrimeStoppers at (573) 875-TIPSto remain anonymous.

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