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Mother of Missing Grad Student, Jelani Day, Speaks Out Against Authority's Handling of Case

Sydney Gidman | News Editor

The mother of Jelani Day, Carmen Bordon Day, has spoken out against the way law enforcement handled the search for her missing son, who has now been identified as deceased. Jelani Day was a 25-year-old Graduate Student at Illinois State University where he was studying to become a Speech Pathologist. According to the Bloomington Police missing person report, Day was last seen on the morning of August 24th and was reported missing after not showing up to class for multiple days.

Jelani's body was found on September 4th, but Jelani’s mother did not receive any information from coroners or law enforcement on progress with identification until her sons story caught the attention of national media outlets.

The case of a 22 year old missing white woman, Gabby Petito, grabbed the attention of media around the world. The discrepancy in urgency between Petito’s case and cases of missing black people had led to increased attention on lesser-known cases.

In a September 17th interview with Newsy, Carmen said "I want them to look for my child-like they're looking for her. He is not a nobody, he is somebody — and I want him to come back home. I want them to give my son the same attention, and it makes me mad because this young white girl is getting that attention and my young Black son is not."

In an interview with KDRV, Carmen highlighted that she had to take the search for evidence of her son into her own hands after she believed law enforcement weren't doing enough. The search that she coordinated ultimately led to his car being found.

Carmen said, "Prior to me getting to the spot where his car was found, they told me that night 'We've already done an extensive search. We've had this search crew come in, It just didn't seem right to me. So that Saturday, I had to organize my own search," Day added.

On September 4th, his body was recovered in the Illinois River—just a mile away from where his car was found. In an interview with CNN on September 24th, Carmen told the reporter that neither the Lasalle County coroner or Peru Police had contacted her regarding the identification of her son’s body until the 21st. The reporter highlighted this while speaking to the camera, “Just so people know, the body was found September 4th, and it took them until now”. When asked if law enforcement have given Carmen information about an investigation into Jelani’s death, Carmen said, "No. To them, Jelani didn't mean anything”.


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