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Family Pleads For Help From The Public A Month After Disappearance Of Grad Student Jelani Day
Authorities found Jelani Day's car concealed in a wooded area one day after he was reported missing.
The family of an Illinois medical student who disappeared in August is demanding answers and pleading for help from the public now that a month has passed with few leads on what may have happened to him.
Jelani Day, 25, was reported missing on Aug. 25, after relatives couldn’t get ahold of him, according to a missing person report from the Bloomington Police Department. Day, a graduate of Illinois State University, was working towards becoming a doctor but failed to show up to a planned meeting with a staff member; police said that Day disappeared under “unexplainable suspicious circumstances.”
Day's family and the university faculty member filed the missing person report after they hadn’t him for several days.
Authorities found Day's white 2010 four-door Chrysler 400 on August 26, the day after he was reported missing. Officers of the Peru Police Department responded to a report of a vehicle in the wooded area south of the Illinois Valley YMCA, Bloomington Police Chief Douglas Bernabei stated in a release.
Police said they obtained surveillance video capturing the missing man entering a store called ‘Beyond / Hello’ on Aug. 24 at 9:12 a.m. Day appears to be wearing a blue Detroit Lions baseball hat, a black tee with a Jimi Hendrix graphic, and white and silver shorts in the video; that clothing was found inside his vehicle by authorities.
However, those clothes were different from what he was wearing earlier that day. Security camera footage captured Day at the university only a couple of hours before he'd entered the store. In that photo, he wore a blue button-up shirt with a collar, black pants, black dress shoes, and a blue face covering.
“The updates are very slim,” his mother, Carmen Day, told Newsy. She claimed her son's lanyard and school ID were later found close to the river where they found an unidentified body.
On Sept. 4, searchers looking for Day came upon a body on the banks of the Illinois River in Bloomington, according to Illinois Newsroom. The coroner said it could take weeks for it to be identified.
“Without positive identification of the deceased person, it would be improper to make any preliminary opinions about the body’s identity and the circumstances behind it,” Bloomington Police spokesperson John Fermon said, according to the outlet. “The LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the deceased person found. We ask that people refrain from speculation as the investigation remains ongoing and could take considerable time.”
Carmen Day expressed that she felt police slackened their efforts to find her missing son since the discovery of the body.
“I don’t feel like I’m getting the help I need. I feel like since this body has been found, and as I said, it’s unidentified, I don’t truly believe it is my son; it appears that help has… ceased,” she told the outlet. “So I’m imploring, pleading and asking that the police still pay attention, still look for my son as vigilantly as they were prior to finding this unidentified body.”
Day's brother took to social media using the hashtag #FindJelaniDay to shore up the effort.
“This is my little brother,” Seve Day tweeted. “He [sic] been missing for 4 weeks as of today now. Please help me and my family find him, one retweet can make a huge difference. I love him so much… I’m never giving up.”
Carmen Dy told Newsy that her son is a driven young man.
“Jelani is energetic, he’s full of life, and he’s goal-driven. He knows what he wants, and his goal was to be Dr. Jelani Day,” she said.
Day is described as a black male, 6’2” tall, 180 lbs. with short black hair and brown eyes. Police say the Chrysler he was known to drive may have had the license plate number CH74067, but there may have also been no plates on the vehicle. The Bloomington Police Department requests that anyone with information reach out to Detective Paul Jones at 309-434-2548 or Pjones@cityblm.org.