The mother of Jelani Day, the Illinois State University graduate student whose body was found after being reported missing, said she was met with hostility by the coroner.
Carmen Bolden Day said the coroner's office was "dismissive, rude and complacent" during the ongoing search for her son, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Despite a positive identification of the body, Bolden Day said she was denied seeing her son, who was found in the Illinois River.
After submitting dental records and DNA testing, the 25-year-old's mom said the coroner called her with "good news" — they were close to making a positive identification on the body. After Day asked some follow-up questions, she said the caller asked, "Do you want us to identify your son or not?"
Bolden Day's attorney, Hallie M. Bezner, was merged on the call and said the operator had no "f**king" right to speak to her client that way. But the mourning mother said despite making a positive identification of the graduate student and sharing a press release with the media, she still had not been able to identify her son for herself.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the body was without eyeballs and front teeth. Bolden Day and Bezner also shared that his jawbone had been "sawed out," according to a second autopsy performed at the request of the family.
The report also stated that the body didn't have organs and had several fish and turtle bites. The body was described as having maggots and unidentifiable genitalia.
At the funeral, Bezner said she advised her client not to look at her son because "he was in such bad shape."
“It’s just a heartbreaking story, for sure,” she added.
Day's family continues their mission to determine what happened to their loved one after he went missing on Aug. 24.
His car was found two days after his family and professor reported him missing during what police described as "unusual circumstances."
What happened to Jelani Day? Black grad student goes missing August 25th later found in a Illinois river Sept 4th and not identified for 20 days after! All his organs were missing. Im so sick of this happening. #JelaniDay #JusticeForJelani pic.twitter.com/u8Z4tqCVeu— Kay🦋Bee (@lupie_kb) October 10, 2021
"To me it's unusual, the way his vehicle was, you know, it was off of a parking lot inside, it wasn't like deep into a woods, but it was off a parking lot," Bloomington Police public information officer John Fermon said. "That's unusual just in itself. There's not much I can release at this point. So just really to state the obvious — that's unusual."
Jelani's cause of death has not yet been determined and police haven't shared what events may have occurred before the incident, NBC Chicago reports.
LaSalle County Coroner Richard Ploch said it would "take some time" before conclusive details could be determined.
"Then need the police agencies to help with the big piece on how he came to be in the water," Ploch said.