DARK details have emerged in Mengqi Ji’s murder case after a tree led cops to solve her husband Joseph Elledge’s sick crime.
On March 25, 2021, the body of a 28-year-old was found in a shallow grave near Rock Bridge State Park in Columbia, Missouri.
Nevertheless, positioned atop the burial spot was a juniper tree that would ultimately aid the authorities in revealing the person accountable for discarding her body in that vicinity.
As per Elledge, Mengqi had taken her handbag and vanished sometime in the early hours of October 8, 2019.
“We didn’t have any major conflicts,” Elledge, at the time 23, informed investigators.
“I believe the previous significant altercation occurred the week prior. Furthermore, it wasn’t truly a major conflict.”
Then during an interview with KRCG, Elledge stated that he had doubts that Mengqi was engaged in an extramarital relationship.
“I am aware that she was conversing with someone else on the side,” he stated.
“And I was unaware of that until after she had departed. But whatever she’s doing, I simply wish for her safety.”
In Elledge’s narrative, Knight observed fissures even in the early stages of the situation, as relayed by Peter Van Sant, correspondent for the show 48 Hours, to the former prosecuting attorney of Boone County, Dan Knight.
She had left behind her 1-year-old daughter – however, what stood out more was that Mengqi had left her passport, mobile phone, residence keys, and vehicle behind when she had reportedly gone missing.
“Knight told Van Sant: ‘She was a great mother. It became apparent early on that Mengqi would not have abandoned her child.'”
Elledge’s account of her departure heightened their concerns regarding Uber trips, flight bookings, or credit card transactions, all of which investigators similarly discovered no evidence of.
Elledge was apprehended – but not in connection with Mengqi’s case, just 16 days after the woman vanished in a surprising turn of events.
After Mengqi transmitted an image of their daughter’s injured rear end to her mother in China, and alleged that her spouse had grasped the infant because she was incessantly crying, Knight accused Elledge of a crime pertaining to mistreatment of a child.
The police arrested him on the day his wife disappeared, after stumbling across crucial pieces of evidence and searching Elledge’s apartment.
They seized a pair of muddy boots, which belonged to Elledge, that would be relevant to the case and kept on day one.
With no evidence tying Elledge to Mengqi’s disappearance, Knight decided to make a bold move after seeing Van Sant’s accumulation of evidence.
In the United States, Knight accused Elledge of committing first-degree homicide on February 19, 2020, right before the Covid pandemic “essentially halted the functioning of the judicial system”.
However, the situation was about to undergo a significant change, with Elledge being held in custody on a $50,000 bond.
On March 25, 2021, a hiker in Rock Bridge Memorial State park spotted a peculiar gleaming item resting in the forest.
Steven Roberts, the man, quickly realized that he had come across a lady’s handbag and started searching in the vicinity.
When he stumbled upon the horrifying finding of a cranium, he promptly contacted the authorities.
Shortly thereafter, a medical examiner would confirm that the remains belong to Mengqi Ji.
Knight made a comeback to the case as he began researching cases where people had placed gravel and soil at the crime scene.
He then discovered that tree foliage could be the crucial connection between Elledge’s dirty boot and his role as the killer.
Knight rang the Garden Botanical Missouri and the process of testing DNA began when Elledge discovered several needles stuck to the soles of his dirty juniper tree boots.
Christine Edwards, a geneticist working in Mengqi’s garden, meticulously removed the pine needles stuck to the muddy sole of her boot while surrounded by several juniper trees climbing around the grave.
He assigned a number to each tree and then selected fresh needles from their uppermost branches.
He informed Van Sant that we were able to ensure that we got the needles exactly from the pruner pole, which involved a 15-foot long and 10-foot ladder.
The DNA taken from Elledge’s boot was compared to the fresh needles and results showed an exact match, indicating that Mengqi’s makeshift grave was located near the tree.
Knight stated that genetic material extracted from these juniper trees played a crucial role in resolving this criminal case, while Van Sant asserted that he had never encountered such a remarkable occurrence throughout his entire tenure at 48 Hours.