Authorities end search in river for missing Columbia woman

Authorities in central Missouri are finished searching a section of river for the remains of a Chinese woman who's been missing for more than a year

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Law enforcement officers have finished searching a section of a central Missouri river for the remains of a missing Chinese woman whose husband is charged in her death.

The search of the Lamine River near Boonville did not recover any evidence related to Mengqi Ji, 28, who was reported missing on Oct. 10, 2019, Columbia police said.

Her husband, Joseph Elledge, is charged with first-degree murder in her death and with abusing the couple's young daughter. He pleaded not guilty in both cases. No date has been set for Elledge's murder trial, KMIZ reported.

Elledge and Ji married in 2017 and attended the University of Missouri.

Authorities conducted aerial and foot searches along the Lamine River outside of Boonville for months after cellphone records showed Elledge was in the area for about 45 minutes around the time his wife disappeared. Cadaver dogs also hit on a scent in the area, police have said.

At one point, the department built a temporary levee in the river to allow larger equipment farther out into the water. That effort ended in June.

The remaining parts of the levee were removed in October and detectives and K9s searched the debris for any evidence Ji had been there.