The husband of a missing woman who is in custody on child abuse charges is the “prime suspect” in his wife’s disappearance, a Missouri prosecutor has said.
The Missourian reports that Joseph Elledge, the husband of missing Columbia woman Mengqi Ji Elledge, appeared in court on Wednesday as his defense attorneys argued to reduce his bond from $500,000.
Mengqi Elledge has not been seen since October 9, when her husband reportedly claimed that she was not in their home early that morning when he woke up, having gone to bed the night before at about 11 p.m. On October 26, Joseph Elledge was arrested on suspicion of abusing the couple’s 1-year-old daughter, and has remained in the Boone County Jail since that time.
According to the report, Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight said in court that Joseph Elledge was the “prime suspect” in his wife’s disappearance, and played four audio recordings in which the suspect can be heard speaking harshly to his wife and saying that he wanted out of the marriage.
“I want to divorce you. … The sooner the better,” Elledge reportedly said to his wife in the recordings played in court.
“I don’t like being with you … “I’m eager to end it,” he said, in addition to telling his wife: “I will bury the earth under you.”
According to KRCG-TV, Knight told the court that the suspect himself had recorded the conversations with his wife on a mobile device. According to that report, Joseph Elledge was heard asking his wife in one of the recordings if he should “tell the court” that she was abusive to him. But the prosecutor insisted that the suspect was the abusive party in the relationship, describing him as a “jealous, controlling, manipulative psychopath,” according to the Missourian.
KRCG-TV reports that a Columbia Police detective said at the hearing that authorities suspect Mengqi is no longer alive.
“The evidence we found so far looking at her financial records, from her social media, contact with her family, contact with her friends, we have no proof at this point that she is anywhere alive,” detective Allen Mitchell reportedly said.
According to the Missourian, the judge had not ruled on the bond reduction at the time of the report.
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