Jelani Day’s family pleads for help finding missing student

Gabby Petito’s widely covered search and recovery operation has led to renewed calls for authorities to find a missing Illinois graduate student whose car was found abandoned.

Jelani Day, 25, an aspiring doctor attending the Illinois State University, was last seen Aug. 24 entering a cannabis dispensary in Bloomington, police said.

“I was very frustrated with the fact that Jelani hadn’t been getting the coverage. Jelani’s been missing for 24 days. And like I said, it seems like the effort to find him has slacked down,” his mother, Carmen Bolden Day, told Newsy.

Day said it’s been frustrating that her son hasn’t received the same level of coverage as Petito,

“Why he doesn’t get that same attention? Because just like Gabby is important, I can sit in this seat and say I know what her mother’s feeling like because she wants her child back,” she said. “I want my child back too.”

“It makes me mad that this young white girl is getting that attention, while my young black son is not,” she continued.

Jelani Day has not been seen since the end of August.
Peru Police Department
Carmen Bolden Day has renewed calls to help find her missing son Jelani.
Carmen Bolden Day has renewed calls to help find her missing son.

Though Day’s whereabouts are still unknown, authorities said they located his vehicle concealed by trees in an area south of the Illinois Valley YMCA on Aug. 26.

Police discovered the clothing he was wearing when he was last seen, but there was no trace of him.

His case received attention this week from the singer Lizzo, who posted on TikTok about his disappearance and implored her followers to “#helpfindjelaniday.”