Jelani Day, a 25-year-old graduate student at Illinois State University, was pursuing his master’s degree in speech pathology.
Day went missing on Aug. 24, and his car was discovered two days later in a forested location miles distant from where he was last seen.
Day’s mother, Carmen Bolden Day, stepped out in the wake of a tremendous outpouring of interest in Gabby Petito’s case, begging for additional assistance in locating her son.
Day’s car was discovered on Aug. 26 near Peru, Illinois, and an initial search involving K-9s, drones, and ground searches was conducted.
The FBI was also involved in the investigation. On Sept. 4, 2021, authorities discovered Day’s body floating in the Illinois River.
According to Bloomington Police, on Sept. 23, 2021, the LaSalle County Coroner verified Day’s identity through forensic dental identification and DNA testing.
The coroner’s office said on Thursday, Sept. 23 that a cause of death would not be determined until additional toxicological testing was completed.
Day’s death would not be considered a homicide, according to police.
The parents of the recent college graduate are pleading for assistance.
“There are no words to clearly communicate our devastation. We learned this morning from the LaSalle County Coroner the deceased man found in Peru, Illinois, on Saturday, Sept. 4, is Jelani. Our hearts are broken. We ask that you continue to pray for our family during what will be very hard days ahead.
Throughout these 30 days, our very first concern was finding Jelani, and now we need to find out #WhatHappenedToJelaniDay. At this moment, there are more questions than answers surrounding Jelani’s disappearance and death, and that is where we will focus our energy. As of this moment, we do not know what happened to Jelani, and we will not stop until we do.”
They added: “This week we learned new evidence has been discovered and police are working on new leads related to Jelani’s disappearance. This case is not closed and the investigation is not over. We STILL need people who have information to come forward.
If you know anything about what happened to Jelani or had contact with Jelani in the days and weeks before his disappearance, please contact Bloomington Police.”