LASALLE COUNTY, Ill. (WAND) - The body of Jelani Day has been identified after being found in the Illinois River, authorities said.
A press release from the LaSalle County coroner said a body found on Sept. 4 as authorities searched the Illinois River about a quarter mile east of the Illinois Route 251 bridge was that of Day. That search involved members of the Illinois Search and Rescue Council along with other search agencies in the area.
Day, an Illinois State University graduate student, was reported as missing on Aug. 25, 2021. Family reported they last spoke with him the evening of Monday, Aug. 23. He was seen at the ISU campus on Aug. 24.
Day's vehicle was found in Peru on Thursday, Aug. 26. Based on findings by Peru police when they recovered the vehicle, a command post was established and an extensive K-9 search was conducted by Illinois State Police. There were drone aerial searches by Peru firefighters and Utica firefighters, as well as ground search by teams from Peru, Utica and Oglesby.
After the Sept. 4 recovery of the body, forensic dental identification and DNA testing and comparison was completed. The cause of death is unknown pending further investigation and toxicology testing.
The investigation into Day's death includes Bloomington police, Illinois State University police, Peru police, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the LaSalle County Sheriff's Office, the LaSalle County Coroner's Office, the LaSalle County Sate's Attorney's Office, LaSalle police, Illinois State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Springfield Division.
Anyone with information should contact the LaSalle County Sheriff's Office by calling (815)433-2161.
The family of Day released a statement on Facebook through the Find Jelani Day page:
"There are no words to clearly communicate our devastation. We learned this morning from the LaSalle County Coroner the deceased man found in Peru, IL on Saturday, September 4 is Jelani. Our hearts are broken.
"We ask that you continue to pray for our family during what will be very hard days ahead. Throughout these 30 days, our very first concern was finding Jelani, and now we need to find out #WhatHappenedToJelaniDay
"At this moment there are more questions than answers surrounding Jelani’s disappearance and death, and that is where we will focus our energy. As of this moment, we do not know what happened to Jelani and we will not stop until we do.
"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.
"We STILL need people who have information to come forward. If you know anything about what happened to Jelani, or had contact with Jelani in the days and weeks before his disappearance, please contact Bloomington Police Detective Paul Jones at (309)434-2548 or email him at email@example.com.
"We have also hired JAB Professional Services to assist the police. Information regarding Jelani’s disappearance can be emailed/texted to Beliveaups@yahoo.com 618-223-0044 (C) The family is offering a $25,000+ cash reward: https://gofund.me/8ee08e46
"Thank you to every single person who has thought about, prayed for, talked about and searched for Jelani. The love you’ve shown our family has sustained us and we will definitely need you even more in the days to come. We love each and every one of you for making Jelani’s story personal.
"We will continue to share updates on Jelani’s case as information becomes available."