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Body of missing graduate student Jelani Day founds in Illinois River

A body found floating in the Illinois River was identified as Illinois State University graduate student Jelani “JJ” Day, authorities said Thursday.

Day’s family had been pleading for help for weeks since he was reported missing on Aug. 25. They criticized authorities for not taking his disappearance as seriously as Gabby Petito, the aspiring blogger who died during a cross-country trip with her fiancé in a case that has mesmerized the country

Bloomington Police Department said Day’s body was found Sept. 4 floating near the south bank of the Illinois River but the LaSalle County Coroner only Thursday identified the remains after using forensic dental identification and DNA testing. 

His cause of death is unknown, police said, but is under investigation. A toxicology test is also pending. 

Day was last seen on Aug. 24 on campus at Illinois State University and at a marijuana dispensary in Bloomington, a small central Illinois city about 130 miles southwest of Chicago. 

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A body discovered in a river has been confirmed as Jelani Day, a graduate student missing from Illinois State University for nearly a month

Two days later, police found his car in a wooded area in Peru, about 60 miles north of Bloomington.

Police said they did an extensive search in the area with K-9 dogs, ground personnel and drones for several days. His body was found floating in the Illinois River on Sept. 4

Throughout the weeks, Day’s family had been vocal, pleading for help to find the 25-year-old Black student who was studying to get his master’s degree in speech pathology. 

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