Jelani Day’s mom wants the answers she thinks national attention has got for the Petito family


In the middle of the questions are clues. His car was found in woods in Peru, Illinois, nearly 70 miles from where he was last seen alive. His wallet, clothing and an identification lanyard were all found individually in separate places in the same general area of ​​the car, but at distances of up to over a mile from where the body was. been found, according to investigators.

“It’s been too long not to have answers,” Carmen Bolden Day, Jelani’s mother, said on Tuesday. “I need to know why. I need to know how.

Bolden Day, along with supporters including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, traveled to Peru, Illinois on Tuesday, where Day’s vehicle and other personal effects were found.

“Help me find justice,” Bolden Day implored the crowd outside the Peruvian Police Department who had gathered to go to where evidence was found in the case to raise awareness and raise awareness. ask questions about what happened.

Jelani Day was last seen on August 24 in Bloomington, Ill., Walking into a Beyond / Hello store.

Two days later, her car was found about an hour’s drive north of Peru, abandoned in the woods behind a YMCA and in the middle of a residential community.

The place the car entered, according to the former family attorney, looks like a dead end in the asphalt road.

The license plate had been removed. The clothes Day was seen on a surveillance camera on August 24 were in the car.

His wallet was found “a bit in the bushes” about half a mile away, investigators said. Neither the car nor the wallet was found near the water, but Day’s body was found more than a week later more than a mile from the shore of the Illinois River.

Investigators said an identification thong was found just across the river from the body. Clothing was also found further east along the river, next to the Illinois Route 251 bridge.

Day's body was found on the south bank of the Illinois River, just east of the Highway 251 bridge.

Bolden Day doesn’t believe his son would have harmed himself, certainly not by drowning in a river in a town he had no connection with.

“There are plenty of bodies of water in Bloomington!” Bolden Day told CNN. “We are in Peru. A town where Jelani has no friends. His car was parked in a wooded area that you wouldn’t even know how to get to if you hadn’t heard of it.”

She drew national attention to her son’s case during the search for Gabby Petito, while she still did not know Jelani’s fate.
Carmen Bolden Day brought supporters to Peru, Illinois to demand answers to her son's death.
Petito’s remains were found in a remote campground near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and were quickly identified. Day’s remains were found in the Illinois River west of Chicago and it took almost three weeks before his identity was confirmed.
As mystery surrounds Jelani Day's death, families of missing black men plead for more responsibility

Bolden Day ordered two independent autopsies after telling CNN it was difficult to maintain confidence in local authorities.

Jelani Day’s body was found in a serious state of decomposition, so much so that Bolden Day did not think the coroner could say with such certainty in his report that there was “no evidence of such injury. than manual strangulation, assault or altercation, sharp, blunt or gunshot wound, infection, tumor, natural disease, birth defect or significant drug poisoning.

The LaSalle County coroner even wrote in his report, “the exam was suboptimal” based on the level of decomposition after more than a week in hot summer weather. According to the family’s former lawyer, Hallie Bezner, her organs were “completely liquid”.

Bolden Day told CNN: “He doesn’t have a skin to determine bruising, so none of this makes sense and you mean to tell me that no physical trauma was caused to my child?”

“Do I accept that if they tell me he’s my son? I accept it but I still need to know why my son is no longer there. Because someone knows.” , she added.

The coroner’s report was “an insult not only to myself, but to my son,” she said. These are the feelings of civil rights activist Jackson. shares, saying “that assumes there is some kind of suicide planned.”

Bolden Day has always rejected this narrative.

“Jelani was an avid swimmer and an avid swimmer doesn’t drown,” said Bolden Day. “So Jelani ended up here against his will, he ended up in this river against his will. He drowned against his will. So it all amounts to murder.”

She wants the investigation to be taken over by state or federal authorities and says there needs to be more evidence showing how her son got from Bloomington to Peru, if only anyone was watching.

CNN asked Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office if they planned to investigate, but did not receive a response as of Tuesday evening.

A statement from the Peruvian Police Department to CNN pointed out that the death was worked on every day by officers from various forces.

“There are hundreds of hours of video to go through, plenty of follow-ups to do and a plethora of social media, bank statements, phone statements and other pieces of information to study,” it read, adding that the unit was dedicated to getting answers for the family.

Jelani Day's case has now been picked up by Representative Bobby Rush, who is calling for federal help.

Bolden Day garnered support from U.S. Representative Bobby Rush from neighboring Illinois’ 1st District, who backed his call for the FBI to take over the case, though this usually only happens when a crime federal government could be committed.

Rush wrote to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray asking them to intervene, in a letter first reported by CNN.

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated the disappearance of Gabby Petito, who disappeared around the same time as Jelani Day. While the outcome was equally unfortunate and tragic, I hope that receiving timely responses provide his family with a level of comfort and closure, ”he wrote.

“Upon learning the details of Day’s case, I remembered the lynching of Emmett Till, whose body was found floating in a river in 1955 and yet, decades later, no one has been held legally responsible for his death.”

He continued, “Appropriately, the FBI aggressively pursued justice for Petito, and Day’s family deserve the same urgency as they continue to seek answers to the many questions surrounding his tragic death.”

Siobhan Johnson, spokesperson for the local FBI office in Chicago, said officers were always ready to offer help on request and were in contact with the Peruvian Police Department to provide resources.

For now, Bolden Day says she’s still angry with the way her son’s case has been handled and wants the answers she thinks national attention has garnered for the Petito family.

“Jelani deserves the same,” she said. “I deserve the same.”


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