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Posted under: News

Jelani Day’s Body Found In Illinois River

The 25-year-old was found days after public outcry over the lack of attention to Day’s case compared to that of Gabrielle Petito’s.

Update (Sept. 23, 2021): A body found in the Illinois River on Sept. 4 has been confirmed to be that of Jelani Day, the 25-year-old who was reported missing in August. 

Forensic dental identification and DNA testing allowed officials to confirm the body was that of Day’s, CI Proud.com reported. Officials have not disclosed a cause of death. 

His missing-persons case gained steam in recent days after widespread media attention to the case of Gabrielle Petito, a young white woman. 

The investigation into his death is ongoing and officials are awaiting results from a toxicology test.

Original (Sept. 22, 2021): Graduate student Jelani Day's family is pleading with the public and Illinois police for answers as they continue to look for the 25-year-old since his disappearance last month. Day was last seen on Aug. 24 and was reported missing the following day, People reports.

The Bloomington Police Department shares that he was seen on surveillance footage inside the Beyond/Hello store in Bloomington, Illinois, at about 9:12 a.m. He was wearing a Detroit Lions hat, black T-shirt, white shorts and black shoes. Police still have no information on his whereabouts but say they've found his white Chrysler 300 vehicle.

"Upon a search of law enforcement computerized files, it was determined the vehicle was a vehicle of interest in a missing person case out of Bloomington, Illinois. The vehicle was one belonging to Mr. Jelani J. Day, age 25 of Bloomington, Illinois," police said.  

Day's mother said she doesn't feel the police have done everything in their power to find her son, according to Newsy. She said that she feels the police have given less effort since finding an unidentified body that she feels is not her son. 

"The updates are very slim. The last thing that I've heard is that prior to them finding the unidentified body that Jelani's wallet was found. It was found on some street.  I'm not for sure exactly what the street was. There was an individual, I don't know whom this individual was, that claims to have seen an individual drop the wallet. Someone wearing a red shirt or red shorts,  but he's unsure of what this person was wearing," she said. "His lanyard with his school ID was found close to the river where they found this unidentified body. So, we don't have a lot of information."

"I don't feel like I am getting the help that I need. I feel like since this body has been found — that, as I said, is unidentified, I don't truly feel like this is my son — it appears that help has ceased. So I'm imploring, pleading and asking that the police still pay attention, still look for my son as visually as they were before they found this unidentified body," she continued.

Day's family reported him missing after trying to reach him via phone numerous times to no avail on Aug. 25. Day's mother says they spoke constantly before his disappearance.

"Our very last conversation, he called me. I was at work. He didn't want anything, he was just letting me know that he took care of some stuff that I asked him to do. He said, 'Okay, Mama. I just wanted to hear your voice.' That's what he did. He said that to me all the time. He told me he was going to class and that we would talk. He'd call me later," she said.

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. has also released a statement calling for any information regarding the disappearance of its member.

"Help us bring Bro. Jelani Day ('18 NE) home safe. If you have any information or have seen Jelani please contact BFD Dispatch 309-820-8888 or contact Det. Paul Jones at 309-434-2548 or pjones@cityblm.org," the organization tweeted.

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