BREAKING Husband of missing Columbia woman charged with first-degree murder

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BOONE COUNTY - Joseph Elledge, the husband of missing Columbia woman Mengqi Ji, has been charged with first-degree murder, according to online court documents.

According to a probable cause statement, Elledge was discussing divorce with Mengqi Ji prior to her disappearance.

Investigators recovered a recording on Mengqi Ji's phone of an argument between her and Elledge.

Elledge is heard saying, "you know how I conquer nature....You're still just a woman and there's nature in that. There's nature in you're brain...You're poking the bull. Don't poke the bull."

Cadaver dogs "alerted the presence of human decomposition" during CPD's search of the Lamine River. Authorities began searching the Lamine River in late November, but nothing was found in the search.

Boone County prosecuting attorney Dan Knight filed the charge in Boone County Court Wednesday.

Joseph Elledge's next court appearance is 9:30 a.m., tomorrow, Feb. 20, at the Boone County Circuit Court.

Joseph Elledge was previously indicted by a grand jury on Dec. 20 for one count of abuse or neglect of a child and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Elledge is currently the prime suspect in his wife's disappearance. Mengqi Ji was reported missing Oct. 10, and Joseph has been the subject of an active investigation into her disappearance. 

Thursdays court hearing was to discuss when trial will be held for child abuse and neglect charges. The trail will be held on April, 6. Jurors will be coming from Warren County.

When asked for comment, Elledge's attorney said there would be none at this time.

This is a developing story. We will update as we know more.

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