Mother-in-law of missing Columbia woman files for guardianship of child

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COLUMBIA - The mother-in-law of missing woman Mengqi Ji Elledge has filed for guardianship of Elledge's child.

Court documents show that the child's father, Joseph Elledge, gave his consent to hand guardianship over to his mother on Monday.

Joseph was arrested on Oct. 25 for abuse and neglect of a child. Court documents from that arrest revealed that the child had "severe bruising" on her buttocks.

Police found out about the incident while investigating Joseph following his wife's disappearance.

A probable cause statement said Joseph admitted to pinching the child to distract her from crying. However, the statement also said that the injury did not "appear to be consistent with a pinch or tight holding" but instead one that would come from some kind of strike.

Police are still searching for Mengqi Ji Elledge.