More questions than answers remain after the body of Illinois State University graduate student, Jelani Day, was found last month in the Illinois River.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, family members told Dateline in August that not hearing from Day, 25, was “very unlike him.” After contact with him on August 23, the family didn’t hear from him again.
Day failed to show up for classes at ISU on August 24, where he was studying to become a doctor, and never returned for any subsequent classes. His family made several unsuccessful attempts to find him, police said. Their calls to Day 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.”
Authorities announced in September that a body was found along the south bank of the Illinois River. Weeks later, a LaSalle County coroner identified the body as Day.
So far, there has been no cause or manner of death announced, but police are treating the case as a “death investigation.” Day’s family and their attorney said it’s been weeks without answers.
“[M]y son did not put himself in a river,” Carmen previously said.
“My son was murdered and my goal and purpose are to find out what happened and hold those responsible accountable!!!”
A LaSalle County coroner said that Day’s organs decomposed and were “completely liquified” because he was in the water for so long, the Day family attorney, Hallie M. Bezner, stated.
But the question still remains: How and why did Day die?
An independent pathology report commissioned by Day’s family contradicted the official autopsy report, Chicago Sun-Times reports.
The independent report indicated that Day’s jaw appeared to have been sawed off, although the official autopsy never mentioned that, according to Bezner. Day’s eyeballs, teeth, brain, and multiple major organs were missing. He also had numerous bites and marks, left behind by fish and turtles.
Bezner and Day’s family still need answers about Day’s death but are hesitant to entertain conspiracy theories, which have been running rampant on social media.
“I’m really trying to ask questions and not go down the path of a lot of conspiracy because I think it’s easy to go that way,” Bezner said.
Meanwhile, the FBI Behavioral Unit started an investigation into the case, and the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation is ongoing.
Check back for updates.
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[Featured Photo: Jelani Day/Handout]