BREAKING: Joseph Elledge named prime suspect in wife's disappearance

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COLUMBIA - Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight said Wednesday in court that Joseph Elledge is the prime suspect in his wife, Mengqi Ji's, disappearance.

Elledge appeared as part of a bond hearing Wednesday afternoon. He is currently in Boone County Jail on a $500,000 bond for child abuse and neglect.

At one point an audio recording was played in court, and Joseph Elledge could be heard saying “I will bury the earth under you” to his wife Mengqi Ji. He also said “you’re very fortunate to be in America.”

In another recording, he said he was eager to end their relationship and ready to stop talking to her “forever.”

We previously reported that Elledge drove through remote areas of mid-Missouri before reporting Mengqi Ji missing. We now know that he drove around for 8 hours, traveling from Columbia to Jefferson City, then stopping at a forest near Ashland before heading to Fulton, later driving to a MKT trail entrance in Rocheport.

Mengqi Ji was reported missing Oct. 10, and her husband, Joseph, was a subject of an active investigation into her disappearance, according to an early probable cause statement. 

Joseph’s mother, Jean Elledge, filed for custody of his and Mengqi Ji’s child last week. Mengqi Ji’s parents, Ke Ren and Xiaolin Ji, then filed their own petition for custody.

Knight said in court that both sets of grandparents will have equal custody of their grandchild.

Jean Elledge was present and gave testimony on her son's character at the bond hearing Wednesday.

According to attorney Amy Salladay, Mengqi Ji's parents decided not to attend the hearing after being briefed by prosecutors that: there is now a pending murder investigation and there has been no evidence found that Mengqi Ji is still alive.