Jelani Day case: Coroner confirms body found in Illinois River is missing ISU graduate student

The LaSalle County coroner confirmed Thursday that a body found in the Illinois River on Sept. 4 is missing Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day.

The cause of death is unknown at this time, Coroner Richard Ploch said. Toxicology tests are still underway.

Ploch says forensic dental identification and DNA testing and comparison helped confirm the identity of the body.

Day, 25, was last seen Aug. 24. His family in Danville and a faculty member reported him missing after he did not show up for class for several days.

Day's mother, Carmen Bolden-Day, spoke to FOX 32 on Tuesday. She said it was not like her son to disappear without telling someone about his whereabouts.

"I need him to come home so that he could continue his journey of becoming Dr. Jelani Day," she had said.


She said the resources and media attention that Gabby Petito's case was receiving was much different than from what her son's case had gotten.


Jelani Day (Larae Sunshine Bolden / Facebook)

"The treatment they are giving to this young white girl isn't the same treatment they are giving to my young Black son, and I am angry about it and I want that same treatment for my son," Bolden-Day said.

On Thursday afternoon, Bolden-Day released the following statement on social media.

"There are no words to clearly communicate our devastation. We learned this morning from the LaSalle County Coroner the deceased man found in Peru, IL on Saturday, September 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."