Justice for Jelani Day: It took 19 days to identify his body but JUST 2 days for Gabby Petito
Jelani Day, an aspiring doctor, was found dead, floating in the Illinois River with missing organs on September 4
BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS: People have long argued about how missing people of color are given less attention (and consequently less time and resources by authorities) as compared to missing White people. With the nationwide coverage of the Gabby Petito case, this debate has again been pushed into the national consciousness as many started comparing Gabby Petito's case with that of Jelani Day, a Black graduate student. He was reported missing on August 25 before being found dead floating in the Illinois River on September 4 with missing organs.
Not just that, people have compared how Petito’s identification was completed within two days after her remains were found inside a national park in Wyoming on September 19. However, it took authorities 19 days to identify the 25-year-old Illinois State University graduate student. The result of Day’s autopsy done by a private forensic pathologist stated that the body had no eyeballs, only sockets. It has also been said that no brain, no liver, and no spleen were found inside the corpse.
What held up Jelani Day's identification?
Earlier it was speculated that DNA backlogs may have slowed down the identification process. But now, state law enforcement officials said that this is not true. Illinois State Police Chief Public Information Officer Beth Hundsdorfer issued a statement to 'The Pantagraph' that noted that confirmation of the body was "not related at all to any backlog." However, Hundsdorfer did not provide the real reason.
Earlier, Illinois State Police Sergeant Joey Watson had said while explaining the process, “There are a number of mechanisms that laboratories use to ensure an agency's requests are considered and ISP strives to meet these needs through practices such as the use of overtime, outsourcing analysis to an external laboratory, and transferring cases to other ISP labs for assistance.”
Day was an aspiring doctor and a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity. A press release issued on September 23 by LaSalle County Coroner’s Office, LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office, Peru Police Department, and Bloomington Police Department read, “Day was reported missing on August 25, 2021. Family reported that they had last spoken with him in the evening hours of Monday August 23, 2021. Jelani was seen at the Illinois State University campus on August 24, 2021, and his last known location was at Beyond Hello in Bloomington, Tuesday morning, at 9:21am. On Thursday August 26, 2021, Jelani’s vehicle was located in Peru, Illinois.”
It added: “On September 4, 2021, an additional search was conducted in the LaSalle Peru area by members of the Illinois Search and Rescue Council along with other search agencies in the area. During the search a male decedent was recovered floating near the south bank of the Illinois River approximately ¼ mile east of the Illinois Rt. 251 Bridge.”
Though Day’s cause of his death is still unknown, authorities called it “unusual”. John Fermon of the Bloomington Police Department said, “Foul play or not, it’s unusual. Just right off the bat was unusual. Do I want to say that it was foul play suspected, we don’t know. It was just so unusual and somewhat suspicious that it just kind of peaked our interest of 'Hey, this is not normally how a missing persons case goes.'”
Meanwhile, people on social media are calling out authorities and questioning why it took so much time for them to identify Day while Petito’s was done in a few hours. A person wrote on Facebook, “Who killed him and why?? Why aren’t we talking about who killed jelani or why???? Oh but y’all wanted all these questions answered for gabby sick!!” The second one commented, “I GOT AN ANSWER,WHY IT TOOK SO LONG,TO IDENTIFY HIM. SIMPLEY PUT ,HE IS A YOUNG BLACK MAN …” “IF SHE WAS BLONDE HAIR ,BLUE EYES,OR IF HE WAS WHITE,THEY WOULD HVE IDENTIFIED,MORE QUICKLY,THTS THE NASTY TRUTH,” the third added.
A user tweeted, “The fact that what happened to Jelani Day is not making it to the mainstream media is DISGUSTING , he deserves justice and deserves the respect that he wasn’t given. The way he died is truly sickening and needs to be investigated thoroughly #JelaniDay.” Another one wrote, “If he was white this would be all over the news. #JelaniDay #BlackLivesMatter.” “The fact that Jelani Day organs was missing from his body is beyond me!! His liver, his spleen and other organs. Hell even his eyeballs, teeth, && jaw!!! My question is why the fuck is this not getting more ATTENTION??! This shit is sad!! #JELANIDAY,” a tweet read.
The fact that what happened to Jelani Day is not making it to the mainstream media is DISGUSTING , he deserves justice and deserves the respect that he wasn’t given. The way he died is truly sickening and needs to be investigated thoroughly #JelaniDay— Jasmine Danielle (@simplyjasminee1) October 11, 2021
The fact that Jelani Day organs was missing from his body is beyond me!! His liver, his spleen and other organs. Hell even his eyeballs, teeth, && jaw!!! My question is why the fuck is this not getting more ATTENTION??! This shit is sad!! #JELANIDAY pic.twitter.com/s6RpNdQsYk— Mamba Out ✌🏾✌🏾 (@kcjj_04) October 11, 2021