COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – Vegetation found on a Columbia man’s boots places him at the site where his Chinese wife’s body was found in MarchBoone County District Attorney Dan Knight said in a hearing Thursday.
Knight said experts from the Missouri Botanical Garden associated juniper needles on Joseph Elledge’s boots where Mengqi Ji’s body was found in a park near Columbia.
Phone records also put Elledge on the site, KMIZ reported..
Elledge reported Ji’s disappearance on October 10, 2019, leading to a lot of searches before his body was found.
Investigators said Elledge strangled Ji in their apartment and left his body in the park. Prosecutors allege Elledge killed his wife to avoid a costly divorce and prevent her from fleeing to China with the couple’s young daughter.
He pleaded not guilty to first degree murder and to child endangerment charges involving the couple’s child and domestic violence.
During Thursday’s hearing, Judge Brouck Brouck Jacobs rejected a defense request to delay Elledge’s trial, which is due to begin on November 1.
Elledge’s attorney, Scott Rosenblum, had asked for the delay because he said prosecutors handed him “large” files related to the case.