- Associated Press - Friday, December 20, 2019

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri man who authorities say is a suspect in the disappearance of his Chinese wife is facing a new charge of endangering the welfare of a child after a grand jury indictment Friday.

Joseph Elledge, 24, already has pleaded not guilty to charges of endangering the welfare of a child and child abuse and neglect.

Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight said he sought the additional charge based on the argument that Elledge separated his wife, Mengqi Ji Elledge, 28, from the couple’s child and that the separation created “a substantial risk to the life or body or health” to her, The Columbia Missourian reported.

Authorities have said Elledge is the prime suspect the disappearance of his wife, who he reported missing Oct. 9. He has not been charged in that case. The couple has a 1-year-old daughter.

Elledge has been held in the Boone County Jail since Oct. 25 on a $500,000 bond.

A search for Mengqi Elledge’s body in the Lamine River continued Friday. Authorities have not said what led them to search that river.

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