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Illinois State Police: DNA backlog did not delay identification of Jelani Day's body

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Illinois State University students at the Bone Student Center walk past a poster seeking the whereabouts of Jelani Day. The graduate student went missing in late August, and on Sept. 24, a body found in the Illinois River was identified as Day's.

Carmen Bolden Day says to work does not end with laying her son to rest. READ MORE HERE.

BLOOMINGTON — State law enforcement officials told The Pantagraph on Sunday that DNA backlogs did not slow down confirmation of the body found in the Illinois River last month as Jelani Day.

In a statement to The Pantagraph, Illinois State Police Chief Public Information Officer Beth Hundsdorfer said the delay in identifying Day's body was "not related at all to any backlog."

Hundsdorfer did not respond Sunday when asked what did cause the delay.

A body was found deceased Sept. 4 in the Illinois River, just east of the Illinois Route 251 bridge in Peru. Investigators identified the body as Day's 19 days later.

The Pantagraph published an article Sunday that examined the current backlog on DNA tests performed by ISP's Division of Forensic Services, and the impact it may have had on the investigation into Day's death.

Watch now: Did DNA backlog affect Jelani Day investigation?

ISP representatives previously told The Pantagraph they could not comment on the case since it's an open investigation, and that "all cases are a priority."

ISP Sgt. Joey Watson said Sept. 30 that cases are prioritized in laboratories by considering whether it's a violent crime or a property crime, if it has an upcoming court date, or whether the requesting agency has asked for rushed processing, in addition to other information provided by police or prosecutors.

"There are a number of mechanisms that laboratories use to ensure an agency's requests are considered and ISP strives to meet these needs through practices such as the use of overtime, outsourcing analysis to an external laboratory, and transferring cases to other ISP labs for assistance," Watson said.

LaSalle County Coroner Richard Ploch said Oct. 6 that the samples sent to ISP forensic labs were expedited from the very beginning. He also said a bone sample was collected from Day's body on Sept. 5 and was submitted that same day to state investigators.

Jelani Day memorial

Carmen Bolden Day, mother of Jelani Day, accepts a rose from a choir member during the memorial service Saturday afternoon in Danville.

Memorial services for Day were held Saturday in Danville.

Jelani Day

People move east Friday along the Illinois & Michigan Canal in LaSalle before releasing balloons in memory of Jelani Day. The body of the missing Illinois State University graduate student was found in the Illinois River last month.  

The Justice for Jelani Day Facebook page on Sunday stated graveside services originally scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday have been postponed. A new time and date for burial services are to be determined.

Balloons were released Friday in memory of Day on the Illinois & Michigan Canal Dock Trail in LaSalle.

Jelani Day balloon release

Over 100 people release white balloons Friday afternoon at the Illinois & Michigan Canal Dock in LaSalle, while yelling "Justice for Jelani." The balloon release was held in memory of the Illinois State University graduate student, who was found deceased early last month on the banks of the Illinois River in Peru.

A vigil was also held on Thursday in the Redbird Arena at Illinois State University.

Day's mother, Carmen Bolden Day, said at that vigil that police departments in Bloomington, LaSalle and Peru, along with the LaSalle County Sheriff's Office, need to "do their jobs" and find out what happened to her son.

Contact Brendan Denison at (309) 820-3238. Follow Brendan Denison on Twitter: @BrendanDenison


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LaSalle County Coroner Rich Ploch said the office received the results Wednesday, but he declined to comment on the report’s content “due to the ongoing investigation.”

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