Body identified as missing Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day
LASALLE COUNTY, Illinois - The body of an Illinois State University graduate student who has been missing since late August was found in the Illinois River on September 4 and just officially confirmed Thursday as ISU student, Jelani Day.
News outlet, Insider, reports that the coroner of LaSalle County says Day's cause of death remains unknown and is pending further investigation.
The 25-year-old who'd hoped to one day become a speech pathologist was last seen on August 24, and his vehicle was located in Peru, Illinois on August 26.
Illinois State Police conducted an initial search that involved K-9's and use of an aerial drone on August 26. But nothing was found until September 4 when the body that would later be identified as Day's was found in the Illinois River.
Officer John Fermon with the Bloomington Police Department said, "We got some information to give us that second search. We were getting tips in, but that's really as far as I'll get. We were getting some tips in from around that location."
Fermon indicated that at this time, he cannot say whether or not Day's death would be ruled a homicide.
"Foul play or not, it's unusual," he said.
In recent days, the nation's attention to the Gabby Petito case moved Day's mother, Carmen Bolden Day, to speak out and publicly beg for more help finding her son.
At the time, several popular news outlets reported that while Gabby Petito's case garnered much attention, a number of recent missing persons cases involving minorities went unresolved and relatively ignored.
Bolden Day told reporters she sympathizes with the position Petito's mother is in. Yet she added that her son's case "did not get that involvement," and went on to say, "I didn't get that attention."
On the other hand, Officer Fermon says he feels that on a local level, Day's case received a good amount of attention from the beginning. But Fermon says he feels for the families of those whose cases don't get that sort of exposure.
"We're lucky the story actually exploded as well as it did, which may or may not have led to the tips that came in," Fermon said during a news conference. "We've had people going out of their way, drive a few hours, just to walk around."