An Illinois State University graduate student who vanished suddenly a month ago under mysterious circumstances is confirmed dead, according to a coroner's report, says Fox News.
25-year-old Jelani Day was last seen in Bloomington, IL on August 24th. His family and a faculty member at the school reported him missing after he missed several days of classes. On August 26th, his car was found in Peru, IL, approximately 60 miles from the school's campus. An extensive search for Day was launched in the area but turned up nothing.
The car was spotted in a "wooded area south of the Illinois Valley YMCA," according to police and that they found clothes inside that he was wearing the last time he was seen in public.
Carmen Bolden-Day, Jelani's mother, spoke to the media and showed frustration that her son's disappearance was treated far differently than the disappearance of Gabby Petito.
"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," she told FOX 32 Chicago.
The LeSalle County coroner confirmed on Thursday that a body that was found in the Illinois River on September 4th was in fact Jelani. The location was about one mile from where his car was found. The discovery was sparked by a tip that brought them to the location.
Bloomington Police public information officer John Fermon said, "We can all agree that it was very suspicious, just unlike him. It was one of those things, was it foul play or not?"
"Imagine searching an entire city is difficult, but we got some information to give us that second search."
"I couldn’t put myself in their shoes. It was just tough," Fermon added, and says he understands the Day family's frustration that the case did not garner much attention at first.
"A lot of our high-risk missing persons just here in the city don’t get the attention (they) deserve either. I’m happy this got out there. We’ll take the criticism."
Fermon did not explain why it took so long to get a positive ID, but mentioned there is a significant backlog at the Illinois State Police crime lab.
Day's family issued a statement on Thursday on Facebook (embedded below). Part of the statement reads, "This week we learned new evidence has been discovered and police are working new leads related to Jelani’s disappearance. This case is not closed and the investigation is not over."