UPDATE: More divers help in day three of search for missing woman

1 week 5 days 7 hours ago Tuesday, December 03 2019 Dec 3, 2019 Tuesday, December 03, 2019 6:41:00 AM CST December 03, 2019 in News
By: Perri Stewart, KOMU 8 Reporter and Melody Cox, James Stanley & Trinidy Thompson, KOMU 8 Digital Producers
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COOPER COUNTY - Authorities spent the better part of Tuesday and Wednesday searching an area of the Lamine River for missing Columbia woman Mengqi Ji Elledge. 

The Columbia Police Department joined forces with several other mid-Missouri law enforcement agencies for day two of the Lamine River.

Alongside Columbia police officers were crews from Cooper and Maries counties, as well as the State Highway Patrol and U.S. Geographical Surveys.
"We're getting tremendous support from all the local counties and emergency sources," Jeremiah Hunter, Assistant Police Chief for the Columbia Police Department, said.
He said they had more divers and boats come out for the second day of the search.
Six divers aided in the search - two more divers than before, Community Relations Specialist for the Columbia Police Department Jeff Pitts said. Police crews used canines, canoes, and drones during the search, as well.

After the search was called off Tuesday, the Columbia Missourian reported that police spokesman Jeff Pitts declined to say if any progress was made.

The Mid-Missouri Sheriff's Dive Team confirmed with KOMU 8 it scheduled a dive in the river to search for Mengqi Ji Elledge near the Highway 41 bridge on Tuesday.

The Columbia Police Department is in charge of the investigation. Department officials told KOMU 8 News they were confident they were searching the right area. The department also hasn't said what evidence prompted searching the Lamine River. 

They are not currently searching anywhere else.

Police used a large crane to remove debris from the water.

Hunter said the crews removed most of the debris from the river on Tuesday. He said it needed to be cleared to give the divers better visibility underwater.

Columbia city officials said the bridge would have only one lane open and the public access area would be closed to allow room for a staging area for diving equipment.

Law enforcement dove into the Lamine River last Tuesday after following a number of leads in her disappearance, including information obtained from her husband, Joseph Elledge, who is considered a suspect in the case.

The dive team shared these photos on its Facebook page of the initial search last week.

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.

This information led dive teams to searching a section of the Lamine River in an attempt to find Mengqi Ji, who was reported missing in early October.

Last month, law enforcement asked hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts to keep an eye out in rural areas of Boone County and surrounding areas.

Mengqi Ji is a Chinese woman with brown eyes and black shoulder-length hair who  typically wears it in a bun. She is approximately 5'1"- 5'3" and weighs approximately 105 pounds, police said.

She has been missing for more than a month.

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

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