Illinois grad student remains missing after nearly a month, police ask public for help

A body was found amid the search for Day but has not been positively identified

Amid the disappearance of 22-year-old Gabby Petito and subsequent discovery of her body on Sunday, Illinois investigators have been searching for a 25-year-old graduate student for nearly a month.

Jelani Day, 25, was last seen in Bloomington on August 24. His family in Danville and a faculty member at Illinois State University reported him missing after he did not show up for class for several days.

Now police are asking the public for tips as the search for the young man continues. Bloomington police said Monday that they need tips from the public to aid the ongoing search for Day, whose car was found August 26 in a wooded area in Peru, about 60 miles north of Bloomington.

"What we want is any factual tip, even as simple as, ‘Hey, you know, we saw him walking last month on the quad’ or something. That would be a good tip," said John Fermon, a public information officer for the Bloomington Police Department.

Day’s mother, Carmen Bolden Day, said it’s not like him to disappear without telling someone about his whereabouts.

She said her son wants to become a doctor and he was attending Illinois State University to get his master’s degree in speech pathology.

"I need him to come home so that he could continue his journey of becoming Dr. Jelani Day," she said.

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Earlier this month, investigators found a body during the search for Day. But more than two weeks later, the LaSalle County Coroner’s Office has released no positive identification on the body, saying that could take several weeks.   

Day's mother told Fox News she was frustrated with the slow pace of the investigation and the seeming lack of enthusiasm it has received. Bolden Day said the coroner's office told her they do not have the solution they need to process the DNA of the body that authorities found.

"It doesn't appear to me that they care. This is just another job for them. There's no rush on it. They're not acting as if we're losing days. It's disturbing," she said.

Bolden Day said she feels there has been a disparity between the amount of coverage Petito has received and what her son has gotten. She clarified that those comments in no way diminish the pain Petito’s family has gone through, merely that her son deserves the same attention and resources. 

"My heart goes out to her mother and her father. Because I know exactly what they're going through. But here I have a son who has been missing for 28 days and I can't get any kind of help or assistance," she said. "Not to take away anything from Gabby or say that she's not important because she is. She's somebody's child. Somebody loved her. She was important to her family and her friends and so is Jelani."

Fox News has reached out to both the Bloomington Police Department and the LaSalle County coroner’s office for comment. 

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Anyone with information should contact BPD Detective Paul Jones at 309-434-2548. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report