Missouri man who allegedly killed wife tells court he considered divorce before her death

Missouri man who allegedly killed wife tells court he considered divorce before her death

The Missouri man who allegedly murdered his Chinese wife, Mengqi Ji, admitted that he had considered divorcing Ji before her death but did not seek legal counsel.

Their relationship: Joseph Elledge took to the stand on Tuesday to give further details about his unstable relationship with Ji, 28, that resulted in her death following a physical argument on the night of Oct. 8, 2019, according to the Associated Press.

  • Elledge said that in 2015, he met Ji at Nanova, a dental products company they used to work for. They began dating a year later. The couple then flew to China, where Elledge asked for Ji’s parents’ permission to marry their daughter.

  • They tied the knot in 2017 and talked about having three to five children. They hoped to raise their children in a cross-cultural household, specifically Chinese and American. However, the differences in their cultures, backgrounds and the way they communicated eventually became a problem in their relationship, Elledge explained on the stand.

The issues: Elledge admitted he would sometimes discern their misunderstandings as an attack on him, claiming “difficult to understand each other.” He said that trivial topics, like the weather, would also sometimes evolve into quarrels, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

  • However, their arguments did not start after their marriage. Prosecutors shared text messages showing that the couple was already having issues two weeks before their wedding. Elledge later explained that after fighting, they would resolve the situation and move on.

  • Elledge thought of divorcing Ji, even going so far as to search about it online. But he did not seek legal counsel or file any papers in court. Instead, he reportedly stayed in their relationship and wanted to overcome their issues.

  • Elledge said another problem was Ji’s parents, Ke Ren and Xiaolin Ji, moving in after the birth of his daughter, Anna. He testified that Ji’s parents would “butt in and take over” on how to raise their granddaughter. “I felt very isolated and like I was being pushed out of my own home,” he said, adding that they were allegedly ignoring him.

  • The couple encountered a financial obstacle after Elledge began his internship in Carthage, Miss., in 2019 as they tried to maintain two houses, which affected their intimacy, he said.

  • Then on Oct. 3, 2019, Elledge said he discovered messages Ji sent to a Chinese man on WeChat. After translating their conversation using Google, he realized the messages were “sexually explicit.”

  • Elledge said he felt “wounded, angry and betrayed” after discovering the messages, but he did not confront her until Oct. 8.

  • The physical incident between them happened after Elledge told Ji he wanted to leave with their daughter.

  • Ji allegedly pushed Elledge first, and then he pushed back, resulting in Ji hitting her head on the kitchen cabinets. Defense attorney Scott Rosenblum described her death as a “tragic accident” when the first-degree murder trial began last week.

  • I helped her up and she was still angry. I took her to the couch and she told me just to leave without Anna,” he said.

Other details: Elledge found Ji unresponsive the following morning when he tried to wake her up. He also tried to look for a pulse and discovered that her skin was already cold.

  • My mind was going 100 miles an hour. … I knew people would suspect me,” Elledge said when he was asked by Rosenblum why he did not call 911.

  • Elledge recounted how he had lied to Ji’s friend and her mother when he contacted her on Oct. 10. He also said Anna was in his car when he drove to a remote area of Rock Bridge State Park, the location where he buried the remains of his wife.

  • My mind still was kind of racing thinking about what people would expect me to do,” Elledge said. He returned home and reported Ji as missing. The police suspected foul play days after the case made headlines.

Featured Image via Boone County Sheriff’s Department (left), Columbia Police Department (right)

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