Police recovered the body of a missing Illinois Black student after a month-long disappearance and the family’s accusation that officials were not taking his case as seriously as Gabby Petito’s.
Jelani Day, a 25-year-old first-semester graduate student at Illinois State University, has been missing since August 24. She was last seen at ISU and at a store in Bloomington.
His body was discovered floating in the Illinois River about a mile from where the car was discovered on September 4, but it took police nearly three weeks to identify him, according to WGLT News.
According to the local news portal, officials confirmed that it was Day on Thursday using forensic dental identification and DNA testing and comparison.
Day’s case received extensive local media coverage; however, when questioned by the media, his mother expressed disappointment that her son’s case did not receive enough resources in comparison to another case being reported nationally.
“But do you not see us? Do you not see me? Do you not see my son?” she asked.
Her reference was to Gabby Petito’s case, which has received extensive media coverage as the FBI searches for the 22-year-old at all hours of the day and night.
D’Andre Day, Day’s brother, also told NBC News that it has been difficult to see the difference in treatment between the two missing persons cases.
“I understand what [Petito’s] family is going through because we are going through that right now,” he was quoted by NBC as saying.
“Jelani just didn’t disappear. Somebody knows what happened. Somebody needs to report what happened,” he said. “We need everybody involved, the same way they were involved with Gabby.”
The police confirmed the body’s identification shortly after the family’s statements. However, the cause of death in the case of Day is still unknown.
During a virtual news conference, Bloomington Police Public Information Officer John Fermon told reporters that his disappearance and death were “very suspicious.”
“We can all agree that it was very suspicious, just unlike him,” Mr Fermon said. “It was one of those things, was it foul play or not?”
Mr Fermon also acknowledged the Day family’s criticism that the case received enough attention at first.
“A lot of our high-risk missing persons just here in the city don’t get the attention (they) deserve either,” Mr Fermon said. “I’m happy this got out there. We’ll take the criticism.”
The FBI is now involved in the case, but it’s unclear when they were brought in.