Beginning today, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has temporarily closed De Bourgmont Access on the Lamine River in Cooper County to allow for law enforcement operations surrounding an ongoing investigation.

The Columbia Police Department (CPD) and partner agencies will develop a temporary levee on the river to aid their efforts in locating the remains of Mengqi Ji, who was reported missing from her home in Columbia in October 2019, according to a release from the department today. 

CPD released a community briefing video at youtu.be/bj-9iLdOi1o, which provides more detail on the investigation and the work officers will be conducting while the access is closed to the public.

“We are continuing this search not only for the evidentiary need, but also for the moral and ethical obligation we have to her, her family and friends,” said CPD Assistant Chief Jeremiah Hunter. “We believe this is our best attempt at recovering her body.”

MDC in its release said the department will reopen De Bourgmont Access as soon as possible, when the needs of agencies working onsite allow for safe public use. The closure is anticipated to last up to 10 days, though that timeframe may change.

De Bourgmont Access consists of three acres, providing parking, bank fishing and boat-ramp access to the lower Lamine River near the Highway 41 bridge.  Area users should check the MDC Online Atlas at nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/de-bourgmont-access for status updates on the closure. For more information regarding this closure, members of the public can call 573-796-0286, ext. 4284.

CPD encourages anyone with information on this case to call Crime Stoppers at 573-875-TIPS (8477).