Joseph Elledge: “48 Hours” depicts the murder in Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. — True-crime TV series 48 Hours will investigate a high-profile central Missouri murder case that was solved in court earlier this year.

Mengqi Ji, a 28-year-old woman, went missing in October 2019 while studying at the University of Missouri. A hiker at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in March 2021 found her body after the police had been looking for it for months.

The jury convicted Ji’s husband Joseph Elledge of second-degree murder in her death in November 2021. Earlier this year, a judge sentenced Elledge to 28 years in prison for Ji’s death and 10 years in prison on a separate child molestation case involving her daughter.

48 hours will address the case in an upcoming episode titled “The tree that helped solve a murder.” Correspondent Peter van Sant will provide a detailed account of the case, including how Elledge’s boots and DNA from tree needles have proved key pieces of evidence in his conviction.

“I’ve never heard of anything like this in my entire career at 48 HOURS,” Van Sant said in an email to FOX 2.

The episode airs Saturday at 9 or 10 p.m. on your local CBS Network affiliate and is available to stream on Paramount+.

How Ji died remains a mystery, but prosecutors have suggested that Elledge strangled or suffocated her before bringing her body to the area where her remains were found. Before his sentencing, Elledges Lawyers argued that Ji’s death was an accident.

Boone County’s chief prosecutor, Dan Knight, indicted Elledge before his wife’s body was found. According to the Associated Press, Knight Elledge was a “jealous, controlling, manipulative psychopath” in previous court hearings. He said Elledge killed Ji to stop her from getting a divorce and to stop her from fleeing to China with her daughter.

According to a probable cause statement, Elledge was playing video games and contacted his mother and a friend in the first few hours Ji went missing on October 9, 2019, he later said but did not tell them she was missing. A friend came to check on Ji the next day at her mother’s request, prompting Elledge to report her disappearance.

Elledge, who has been married to Ji since 2017, told investigators the couple’s relationship had been strained for several months and she dismissed his efforts to become closer.

Ji came to the US from China and earned a master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Missouri in December 2014. Previously, she attended the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai. Joseph Elledge: “48 Hours” depicts the murder in Missouri

Sarah Y. Kim

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