- A body found in the Illinois River has been identified as missing graduate student Jelani Day.
- The 25-year-old was reported missing in late August and his body was discovered on September 4.
- “As of this moment, we do not know what happened to Jelani and we will not stop until we do,” his family said.
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A body found in the Illinois River earlier this month has been identified as missing Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day, the LaSalle County Coroner’s Office confirmed on Thursday.
Day’s cause of death has not yet been determined, the coroner said, and his death is still under investigation.
Day, 25, lived in Bloomington, Illinois, and was reported missing by his family in late August after they had not spoken to him for two days, according to the coroner’s statement.
He was last seen on Illinois State University’s campus in Normal, Illinois on August 24, authorities said. Day’s car was found two days later in Peru, Illinois, leading to an extensive search involving local and state police, and the FBI.
His body was found near the banks of the river on September 4, authorities said, though it took several days to confirm his identification.
Day’s family released a statement on Thursday, promising to continue investigating what happened to their loved one.
“Our hearts are broken,” the family said. “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.
Day was reported missing on August 25 after he missed several classes. On the morning before, he was captured on surveillence video entering a dispensary in Bloomington, according to the local NBC affiliate WMAQ. When police found his car in the woods two days later, the clothes Day was last seen wearing in the footage were also found in his white Chrysler 300.
Day’s mother, Carmen Bolden Day, said it was not like her son to disappear and said she believes someone may have hurt her son.
“He wasn’t depressed. He didn’t have any kind of pressures that would make him want to escape from life,” she told the outlet. “So I do feel as if there was someone involved.”
His family has been critical of the investigation into his disappearance, saying Day has not received the same amount of attention as Gabby Petito, whose disappearance and death stoked national interest and a multi-state search.