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The public’s calls for greater attention to be paid to the case surrounding Jelani Day continue this week following a celebration of life ceremony for the Illinois State University student, as well as recent disturbing details regarding his death.
The 25-year-old graduate student, whose body was found in the Illinois River last month, was first reported missing on Aug. 25 in Bloomington. Per earlier reports, he had last been seen on Aug. 24. Two days later, his vehicle was found in the LaSalle County city of Peru.
A celebration of Jelani’s life took place over the weekend, with attending friends and family—including mother Carmen Bolden Day—renewing calls for justice to be pursued with the same vigor as seen in other cases. Media attention on the recent Gabby Petito case, by comparison, consisted of a constant barrage of coverage.
“I’m only getting ready to lay Jelani to rest but I’m not gonna rest because I can’t rest,” Jelani’s mother said. “Because I don’t know what happened to Jelani.”
An ongoing four-part series at the Chicago Sun-Times provides a closer look at the pain Jelani’s mother was forced to endure amid confounding delays and what’s been referred to as a “lack of urgency” from police. Mentioned in the Oct. 8 edition of the column is that a second autopsy—this one performed by a private forensic pathologist at the family’s request—had found that the body was missing its front top and bottom teeth.
Jelani’s mother and her attorney, Hallie M. Bezner, were quoted as having said the forensic pathologist had determined that the jawbone had been “sawed out,” with other graphic body conditions also detailed. According to reporter John W. Fountain, Day’s “corpse had no eyeballs, only sockets.”
The LaSalle County coroner, according to Bezner, said that their pathology report showed the body’s organs had been “completely liquefied.” Bezner, meanwhile, said she she’s not aiming to go down “the path of a lot of conspiracy” with regards to seeking out answers. Furthermore, people have since pointed to an alleged Facebook post from Jelani’s mother as having clarified that this is not—as has been presented on social media—believed to be an example of any “organ-harvesting”-related act of violence. “No organs were missing,” the post stated.
Complex has reached out to a rep for Bezner, as well as the Bloomington Police Department, for additional comment and will update this post accordingly.
Below, see how the public has united behind a push for justice in the case, which remains under investigation at the time of this writing.