Vegetation found on the boots of a Columbia man place him at the site where his Chinese wife’s body was found in March, Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight said during a court hearing Thursday.
Knight said experts at the Missouri Botanical Garden matched juniper needles on Joseph Elledge’s boots to the place where Mengqi Ji’s body was found at a park near Columbia.
Phone records also put Elledge at the site, KMIZ reported.
Elledge reported Ji missing Oct. 10, 2019, prompting numerous searches before her body was found.
Investigators have said Elledge strangled Ji at their apartment and left her body in the park. Prosecutors allege Elledge killed his wife to avoid a costly divorce and to stop her from fleeing to China with the couple’s young daughter.
He has pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge and to charges of child endangerment involving the couple’s child and domestic abuse.
During Thursday’s hearing, Judge Brouck Brouck Jacobs denied a defense request to delay Elledge’s trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.
Elledge’s attorney, Scott Rosenblum, had sought the delay because he said prosecutors had given him “voluminous” records related to the case.
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