Jelani, a graduate student at the University of Texas, was buried Tuesday by friends and family. Jesse Jackson, who compared Day’s death and the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till in which a black teenager was falsely accused of having seized a white woman, buried Day Tuesday.
Day disappeared while he was studying for his master’s degree at Illinois State University in speech pathology. The Day had been missing since Aug. 25, when Day reported that he was not home. His badly decayed body was officially identified as Day almost a month later.
After his disappearance, the bloated remains of the victim were pulled from the Illinois River abtent ten days later. They floated 60 miles away from Bloomington, where they belonged.
Jackson demanded that the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice “conduct a thorough investigation because it smells like another Emmett Till case all over again.” The civil rights activist for decades said that he and the Day families would continue to seek answers.
“We’re not going to stop until it’s over, “Jackson spoke.
Carmen Bolden Day, the young man’s mother, stated that she felt no peace when her son’s remains were buried.
“I just saw one of the best things that God blessed me with, go into the ground, and I’ll never get to talk to him or see him again. I do not even have words to tell you how it is, “she said after the funeral, CNN reported.
“I do not know why I bury Jelani. I do not know what happened to Jelani, so I have no closure,” she said.
Day was not the type of young man to go off the radar, his family said. He did not ignore calls and texts from family and friends. He was a responsible, dedicated graduate student. He had graduated from Alabama A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology.
He wanted to be a doctor.
Yet in August, Day did precisely what he’d never done before. He went off the radar. He didn’t report to class. He didn’t answer his phone. His family and a professor reported him missing on Aug. 25. Ten days later, search teams found his body in the Illinois River near Peru, some 60 miles north of where he went to college.
It took nearly a month for the LaSalle County coroner’s office to positively identify the highly decomposed body as belonging to Day.
The case took on national media attention after Day’s grief-stricken mother, Carmen Bolden Day, said “Missing white woman syndrome” caused the disappearance of Gabby Petito. a 22-year-old blonde who vanished on a road trip with her fiancé, receiving far more attention than her missing Black son.
Gruesome, false rumors ran amok on social media — Day’s internal organs were missing, as were his brain and eyes. His mother, steeped in pain and loss, took to Facebook to plead for calm and for authorities to work harder.
“Some things need and have to be clarified,” She wrote. “No organs were missing. I do not want to stray off from the facts. There were contradicting facts from the first preliminary autopsy compared to the second independent autopsy … My son did not put himself in a river. My son was murdered, and my goal and purpose are to find out what happened and hold those responsible accountable!!!”
Day’s relatives commissioned an independent autopsy following the initial coroner’s examination. The full results of both have not been publicly released. The medical examiner also said there were no missing organs while noting the remains had been substantially degraded.
His family believes Day was killed. Investigators say the case is suspicious. Two days after Day was last seen, his car was discovered near a YMCA, close to a wooded area in Peru. And from there, things have gone cold, authorities said.
“Jelani’s family is our empathy. If I were in her shoes, I would probably feel the way she does,” Bloomington Police Department spokesman John Fermon told Inside Edition Digital this week, referring to Day’s mother. “If it were my son, I’d want answers yesterday,” he said.