Search Continues for Jelani Day Who’s Been Missing Since August

In Summary

The family of Jelani Day is asking the FBI to get involved in the case as it nears one month since he's been missing. 

UPDATE – The body of Jelani Day was identified on September 23, 2021. For updated information, click here.

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.  


Jelani Day has been missing since August 24 and his family is desperate for answers.  

The 25-year-old was last seen in Bloomington near Illinois State University’s Student Center. Since then, authorities found his car and the clothes he was wearing on the last day he was seen. Day’s mother, Carmen Bolden Day, is asking the FBI to help find him. She joined BNC Live with Tashanea Whitlow to tell her son’s story. 

His mother says she is doing the best she can under the circumstances. “I can’t put into words how I’m doing,” she said. Police told her they are investigating, there is a standstill in the case because an unidentified body was found in a river nearby. She also said she was told officers don’t have enough manpower to aid in a search.  

The disappearance of Gabby Petito, who is white, gained national media attention and called the disparities of treatment to those missing and Black into the public spotlight. Carmen said that has made her angry. “I’m angry because my son has been out there. At the time when she came up missing, he was out there for 24 days,” she said. “They reported her missing after not hearing from her for two weeks. I reported him missing after not hearing from him for one day.”  

While her heart goes out to Petito’s family, she says she’s still sitting and waiting to hear about where her son is. “I don’t get the help from the FBI. I don’t get the resources I feel are available to help me. I’m not getting that,” she said. “I’m not getting that help and I’m mad because I want my son found. The same way and the same effort they put into finding Gabby, Jelani is just as important and I want them to look for my son.”  

RELATED: Activists Address Racial Imbalance in Media Coverage of Missing Women 

Carmen said the racial disparities in the search for missing white and Black people are evident. “Jelani matters. He may not matter to them, but Jelani matters to me,” she said. “If you don’t see the racial disparity in this right now, I don’t know what to tell you.”  

Day is six feet two inches tall, with brown eyes and short brown hair. Anyone with information on his disappearance is urged to call Bloomington police at 309-820-8888.  

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.  

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