Bloomington police in Illinois are asking people to stop speculating after a body was found in Peru on Saturday, in an area close to where Illinois State University grad student Jelani Day was spotted before he vanished.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, family members told Dateline that not hearing from Jelani “J.J.” Day, 25, was “very unlike him.” After contact with him on August 23, they haven’t heard anything at all from Day and are pleading for answers.
Day failed to show up for classes at ISU, while his family made several unsuccessful attempts to find him, police said. Their calls to Day reportedly went straight to voicemail each time.
“I call him my ‘bill collector child,’” Day’s mother, Carmen, told Dateline. “Because he just calls me and calls me, nonstop, several times a day. So to not hear from him in a week is very unlike him. Something’s not right.”
CIProud reports that authorities announced a body was found Saturday along the south bank of the Illinois River. So far, there have been no details released about the deceased. It could take days or possibly weeks to make an official identification, according to the LaSalle County Coroner.
Meanwhile, Jelani remains missing.
WGLT reports that security footage from August 24 showed Day wearing a black Jimi Hendrix Band T-shirt with a unique logo, silver or white shorts, a Detroit Lions baseball cap, and black shoes with white soles. The video was taken at the Beyond / Hello cannabis store in Bloomington off of Veterans Parkway, at around 9:12 a.m.
Later that day on August 24, the Bloomington Police Department announced that officers with the Peru Police Department found Day’s white 2010 Chrysler 300 in a wooded area at the intersection of 12th Street and Westclox Avenue, south of the Illinois Valley YMCA in Peru. The area is around an hour from Day’s off-campus apartment in Bloomington.
Another video showed Day on the morning of August 24, at around 7:20 a.m, at the Bone Student Center at ISU. He was wearing a button-up blue dress shirt with a collar, a blue face mask, black shoes, a black belt and black pants.
According to NBC 25, the Director of Clinical Education at ISU, Cara Boester, is the one who reported Day missing. She said he failed to show up for class, which was not like him.
“When he didn’t show up, I texted to see what was going on and he didn’t answer me. I knew he had class at 1 p.m., so I waited for him after class and he didn’t show up,” Boester said. “That is not at all something our grad students would do.”
It was Day’s first day of graduate school at the school’s Communication, Science and Disorders Department, where Boester serves as the director.
Day’s mother added that Day lives in an off-campus apartment but frequently visited his family home in Danville, around an hour away. Police have found the events “unusual.”
“A lot of the things that are unfolding just seems unusual. We released that he didn’t show up to class. His family has been trying to contact him,” Bloomington Police spokesperson John Fermon said.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up to help the family with resources and assistance to help search for Day.
“He’s a vital part of our family and we need him home, please,” Carmen said.
“We love him and miss him. And if anyone out there has seen him or knows anything at all, please call the police. Call me. Call his siblings.”
Day is described as a Black male who stands 6-feet-2-inches tall, weighing around 180 pounds. He had short black hair, brown eyes, and some facial hair.
Police ask anyone who had contact with Day to call the police department at (309) 820-8888, and anyone with information to call Detective Paul Jones at 309-434-2548 or Pjones@cityblm.org.
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[Featured Photo: Jelani Day/Bloomington Police]