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ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY

Watch now: Campus remains shaken after death of Illinois State University student Jelani Day

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A sad update in the disappearance of Jelani Day: A county coroner in Illinois confirmed a body found in the Illinois River on September 4 was the missing graduate student.His cause of death is not known at this time. Day was last seen August 24. He attended Illinois State University and was reported missing after he did not show up to class for several days. Day's family released a statement saying their hearts are broken and they will search for answers to find out what happened to Jelani. 

BLOOMINGTON — A community remained in mourning Friday, the day after 25-year-old Jelani Day was confirmed dead following a four-week search for the Illinois State University graduate student.

Sophomore Joe Edozie said that anytime he thinks about the topic, "it's very disheartening."

"He's a graduate student, on the next level of his education, and he came here to acquire an education," he said. "And after just one night he was never found again."

Drop-in counseling services were offered to ISU students on Friday. 

Day was last seen near campus on Aug. 24 and his body was discovered in the Illinois River in the LaSalle-Peru area on Sept. 4. The outcome of testing to confirm the identity of his body was released Thursday. Police said they're investigating if he was the victim of foul play. 

Edozie, who, like Day, is Black, said Day was someone who looks like a lot of other students on campus — himself included.

"To see someone that looks like me go missing," he said, "it feels like efforts weren't being made fast enough or weren't being taken seriously to find someone who had went missing."

He also said he expected more from ISU, which had sent reminders to students stating they cared about them. Edozie also mentioned a recent report of an attempted abduction of a female student.

"I just feel campus safety is at an all-time low, and we've only been on campus a month and a half," he said.

ISU spokesman Eric Jome said that following the reported abduction attempt, university police spent a lot of time talking to concerned students and parents "to reassure people there was not a widespread problem."

Jome said they have a lot of things in place for student safety — such as security patrols, Blue Light emergency phones and the SafeWalks program — and the university police department is very responsive.

He also said they didn't want to downplay any students' fears, but social media amplification can be difficult to combat.

"If they feel that they have encountered something, the university police department takes it seriously and they look into that," he said.

ISU freshman Alexander Duffy said people still have a lot of questions about the Day case. He raised concerns about campus communication, as well as how race plays in as a factor.

"When we see white people go missing, very quickly their cases pick up," he said. "With people of color, that often isn't the case."

Nationally, commentators have drawn parallels between attention placed on the search for the missing Gabby Petito, 22, who is white. Her remains were found in a Wyoming national park.

Authorities have said they're continuing to investigate how Day ended up in LaSalle County. He was last seen at a Bloomington cannabis dispensary. 

Before the identification of Day's body was announced, an event had been planned in uptown Normal calling on authorities to put more resources into the investigation. That event was turned into a memorial after Thursday's announcement, but was later canceled entirely. 

Jome said the university was cautious about sharing initial media reports on Day's disappearance, and made certain their information was consistent with the Bloomington Police Department.

"We want to make sure whatever messaging we put out is correct and is serving a positive purpose," he said.

Jome added that ISU shared information about the case through its social media channels and on its website. He also said university police, as well as students, staff and faculty, distributed flyers throughout the community.

ISU hosted a Night of Support Sept. 3, in coordination with Day's family and the Multicultural Center. Jome said it was very well attended.

"I think it is very important to emphasize we were very careful to coordinate what we were doing with the family," Jome said. "Our members were in contact with the family to offer support to them and remained in contact throughout the whole thing."

"We try to be very sensitive," he said. 

Continuing Pantagraph coverage in the Jelani Day case

Jelani "J.J." Day, 25, was last seen on Aug. 24 entering the Beyond/Hello dispensary in Bloomington. Authorities on Sept. 23 said his body was found in the Illinois River. 

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Among the attendees is the Rev. Jesse Jackson. This burial comes 10 days after the family held a funeral service at Danville High School to honor the Illinois State University grad student.

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Anyone with information on Jelani Day's death is asked to call 815-433-2161.

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Hallie Bezner, attorney for Day’s family, also told The Pantagraph: “I think that people read between the lines to try to have some conspiracy that doesn't exist."

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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.

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Teachers at Danville High School saw great potential in Jelani Day.

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During Jelani Day's celebration of life, his four siblings sing a tribute backs by a community choir. READ MORE HERE.

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

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“You’re not going to forget his name because I’m not going to let you,” Carmen Bolden Day said on Saturday. 

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Pantagraph journalists spent last week in Danville speaking to those who knew Day, and they described him as big-hearted, hard-working and on a path to success. 

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“He will never be forgotten, Dr. Jelani J.J. Day,” mother Carmen Bolden Day said at the event. "They're going to remember Jelani's name forever.”

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"Thank you for realizing Jelani was important, not just to us, he was important to everybody," his mother, Carmen Bolden Day, said. 

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BLOOMINGTON — A change.org petition asking for state and federal authorities to investigate the death of Illinois State University graduate st…

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The LaSalle County Sheriff's Office announced this afternoon a person of interest sought by Peru Police has been cleared by investigators and is not a suspect in the case.

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Bloomington police Officer John Fermon during a press conference discusses the search for Jelani Day, the Illinois State University student wh…

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Missing ISU student identified after body found near Peru. READ MORE HERE.

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A body found floating in the Illinois River in LaSalle County has been identified as that of missing Illinois State University graduate studen…

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Authorities on Thursday said a body discovered in a river nearly three weeks ago has been confirmed as a graduate student missing from Illinoi…

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Jelani Day, a 25-year-old graduate student at ISU, was last seen the morning of Aug. 24 walking into the Beyond / Hello in Bloomington, accord…

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"We always say here, see something, hear something, know something, say something. Someone out there has seen, heard or knows something."

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BLOOMINGTON — The president of Illinois State University during her annual address to the campus community spoke about a graduate student who …

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BLOOMINGTON — A GoFundMe page to raise money for finding a missing Illinois State University student has generated $12,503 as of Monday.

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BLOOMINGTON — The search for a missing Illinois State University graduate student has continued into its fourth week.

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Authorities are investigating after body was recovered Saturday morning from the Illinois River near LaSalle-Peru.

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"I want you to know, Jelani is not dead and we will find him," said his mother, speaking to a crowd of supporters on Friday night. 

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Carmen Bolden Day, mother of missing Illinois State University student Jelani Day, speaks at an event Friday night in support of the search for him.

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BLOOMINGTON — For Carmen Bolden Day, no amount of money is worth keeping if she can’t have her son back.

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Carmen Bolden Day, mother of Jelani Day, recounts the last phone call she had with her son prior to his disappearance. Several people gathered…

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BLOOMINGTON — Police, family and friends continue to search for Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day after he went missing la…

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BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington police said Friday that officers are continuing their search for Illinois State University graduate student Jelani J…

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Jelani J.J. Day was reported missing Wednesday by his family and an Illinois State University faculty member.

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson told The Pantagraph he expects as many as 1,000 people to attend a Friday march in Bloomington-Normal for Jelani Day, whose mysterious death has stirred national attention. 

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks with The Pantagraph Thursday morning about the planned march in Bloomington and Normal for Jelani Day, the Illin…

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"We want to gain one thing, and that is justice for Jelani Day," said Cameron Barnes, national youth director with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

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In response to a letter sent this month by state Rep. Kambium Buckner, Peru Police Chief Robert Pyszka said that investigators with the multi-jurisdictional unit gave all files in the case of Jelani Day's death to the FBI.

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ISU student Emily Escobedo talks asks for a more thorough investigation into the death of graduate student Jelani Day

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The autopsy results released this week in the Jelani Day case have not changed his family’s message.

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Carmen Bolden Day, mother of Jelani Day, addresses supporters who showed up Friday to a march led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson for her son. Activ…

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson and hundreds marched from Bloomington to Normal on Friday for Jelani Day, the Illinois State student whose death remains a mystery. 

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson took part in a march Friday for Jelani Day, the Illinois State University student whose remains were found in the Illin…

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Marchers move through Bloomington calling for an investigation into the death of Jelani Day. READ MORE HERE.

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

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