Mengqi Ji Murder: Where is Joseph Elledge Now? – Mengqi Ji’s husband, Joseph Elledge, reported her missing in October 2019, much to the surprise of her family. The search for her lasted almost a year until her remains were discovered buried in a park. ‘On The Case With Paula Zahn: A Needle in the Mud,’ a documentary on Investigation Discovery, examines Ji’s murder and how the authorities narrowed in on her husband. So, if you’re interested in learning how Joseph Elledge killed his wife, we’ve got you covered.
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Who Was Mengqi Ji and How Did She Die?
Ji was born in 1991 in Xi’an, China, under the country’s one-child policy. On April 18, she would have turned 30 years old. Her parents, Ke Ren and Xiaolin, only desired one child despite being born under the program. They wanted to shower her with all of their affection. Ji had a close relationship with both of her parents, but she was especially devoted to her mother.
Ji was a bright young lady, according to Salladay, who relayed information from Ji’s parents, who still reside in China, in an email to the Tribune last month. Ji began calligraphy and painting at the age of five. Even as a primary school student, she was expected to learn English and did so quickly.
As a preteen, Ji developed an interest in photography as an outgrowth of her passion for painting. Other hobbies included singing and playing the ehru, a two-stringed bowed instrument. Ji would get her bachelor’s degree in engineering from East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai, which is around 862 miles from Xi’an and would take about 14 hours to drive.
Ji moved to the United States on an exchange program after finishing her bachelor’s degree to pursue her master’s degree in engineering. She subsequently went on to work as a supervisor for a manufacturing firm, where she met Joseph Elledge. In September 2017, the couple married after dating for a year. The couple had a little daughter, Anna, at the time of the tragedy.
Mengqi Ji’s mother, Ke Ren, did not receive a phone call from her daughter on October 9, 2019. Instead, every day, the two spoke. Joseph contacted 911 on October 10, 2019, to report his wife missing from their Columbia, Missouri home. He claims she had left by the time he awoke to their wailing daughter. Ji had left her car and wedding ring behind, according to the show. The 28-year-old appeared to have simply walked away from her family. The authorities didn’t uncover anything until March 2021, despite a thorough search.
A hiker discovered the bones in a secluded part of Columbia’s Rock Bridge Memorial State Park and alerted authorities. A check of dental records proved the worst: Ji was no longer alive. She had four broken ribs on the left side and one on the right, according to an autopsy. While the exact cause of death was unknown, the medical examiner concluded that the death was a homicide.
Who Killed Mengqi Ji and Why?
After Joseph was charged with child abuse and domestic assault in October 2019, authorities began to think Ji didn’t leave voluntarily. Instead, he allegedly slammed his fist into Anna’s buttocks, inflicting bruising. As the authorities investigated further, they discovered that Ji and Joseph’s relationship had been strained for some time. According to the show, Joseph told the cops that they started fighting after their child was born, and he believed she had ignored him.
When Ji’s parents arrived to reside with them, Joseph felt isolated because of their cultural differences, according to his evidence. He claimed at the time that they interfered with Anna’s upbringing. There were also multiple recordings of Joseph and Ji arguing, as well as Joseph’s mother attempting to help with the marital troubles. The recordings were placed in October 2018 and again in May and August of this year.
Joseph can be heard criticizing Ji’s appearance and her alleged lack of sociability in these recordings. He also referred to her as a bad mother. Then, in September 2019, Joseph discovered Ji’s WeChat correspondence with a Chinese man and recognized it was sexual. On the other hand, Joseph stated that he still wanted to work on their relationship and find a way to improve it. But on October 8, 2019, everything changed.
The pair fought on October 8 after he confronted her with the messages, as Joseph would later testify in his defence. Joseph stated he was going to leave the apartment with Anna after a shouting match. However, when he began walking toward his daughter’s room, he claimed Ji had shoved him. Then Joseph shoved her back, causing her to collide with the kitchen cabinets.
According to Joseph, the shoving persisted, but she fell and banged her skull the second time. “I helped her up, and she was still angry,” he added. I escorted her to the couch, where she instructed me to leave without Anna.” As a result, Joseph went out for around 45 minutes and returned to find Ji soundly sleeping on their bed. She was unresponsive and chilly to the touch when he awoke. Joseph indicated that he became terrified and placed his wife’s body in the trunk of his car at this time.
Joseph claimed he wasn’t thinking clearly when he drove out to the park with Anna in the car on October 10, 2019, and buried her after digging a grave for half an hour. This allegation was backed up by data from cellphones. Furthermore, some vegetation was discovered underneath a pair of shoes recovered at Joseph’s house, which matched the trees found at the burial location. When Joseph returned home, he contacted the authorities and reported Ji was missing.
“The consensus is that not being present in court to hear this trial in person was the proper decision for them,” Salladay wrote, adding that the “accident defense” was unknown to the family until Rosenblum’s opening statement.
Throughout the trial, Salladay was present in the courtroom and wrote that it was difficult to see Elledge’s court manner. “After 20 years as a family law attorney, I’ve seen a lot of emotions in families,” she wrote. “When Elledge explained discovering his wife’s corpse was cold, and she was dead, you didn’t see or hear emotion from him. Even if you wanted to divorce your wife because you despised her, Elledge’s lack of emotion in court is astonishing.”
What happened to Joseph Elledge and Where Is He Now?
Despite the fact that Joseph acknowledged to burying Ji’s body, he insisted her death was an accident. He was awkward and made bad mistakes, according to his defense, but he should not be charged with murder. Despite this, Joseph was convicted guilty of second-degree murder in November 2021. He was condemned to 28 years in prison a few months later.
In addition, Joseph, then 26 years old, pled guilty to child abuse, child endangerment, and domestic assault in February 2022. He was sentenced to a total of ten years in prison, with credit for time served. According to prison records, Joseph is still detained at the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, Missouri.