Jelani Day’s Mother Sets Record Straight After Reports That Autopsy Showed His Organs Were Removed

Photo: Illinois State University
Jelani Day

Jelani Day's mother is setting the record straight about conflicting reports of autopsy results in her son's death. 

After initial reports claimed that autopsy results showed Day was found with his organs removed, she is setting facts straight in her pursuit of justice for her son. 

Day, 25, was first reported missing on August 25 after he didn’t show up to class at Illinois State University for several days.

Two days after his disappearance, his car was found in Peru, a small city an hour north of Bloomington, IL., in a wooded area.

Nine days after his car was found, a body was discovered in the Illinois River on September 4, later being confirmed as the body of Jelani Day on September 23. 

How did Jelani Day Die? 

Police have not released an official cause of death in Day's case and the FBI are still investigating his death. 

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Reports claimed that an independent autopsy performed found that Day’s body was discovered without several organs, including his brain, liver, and spleen. However, Carmen Bolden Day has clarified these details.

Jelani Day's mother insists her son was murdered. 

"There were contradicting facts from the first preliminary autopsy compared to the second independent autopsy, but this is not a case of organ harvesting, however, my son did not put himself in a river," she wrote in a statement on Facebook.

"My son was murdered and my goal and purpose are to find out what happened and hold those responsible accountable."

The FBI investigated Day's death as a possible suicide. 

The FBI had initially theorized that Day's death may be a suicide and, according to Day's mother, were slow to investigate any potential suspects. 

Day’s family’s attorney, Hallie Benzer says that the evidence collected so far suggests that, “Jelani did not end up in that river willingly.”

In reports that Day's mother now says are false, it was claimed that Day's eyeballs had been removed, his front top and bottom teeth were missing, his jawbone had been “sawed out” and his genitalia were unidentifiable.  

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The reports added that Day’s organs were “completely liquefied.” Bezner did state that Day's body had suffered innumerable fish and turtle bites and was maggot-infested.

Police have called Jelani Day’s death and disappearance 'very suspicious.'

Benzer also said that Day had never in his life been to Peru, IL., and that his phone still remains missing, but that his wallet was found in a different location than where his car and body were found.

Even before his body was found, Day’s mother, Carmen Bolden Day, called for the authorities to show the same urgency and attention for her son’s case as had been done for Gabby Petito’s case. 

“I was very frustrated with the fact that Jelani hadn’t been getting the coverage,” Carmen Day said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Jelani has been missing for 24 days. It appears that help has ceased. I’m imploring, pleading and asking that the police still pay attention and look for my son.”

#JusticeForJelaniDay began trending on Twitter immediately after the details of his autopsy were complete. Many people found the circumstances surrounding his death to be disturbing, with many people connecting his death to similar unsolved cases involving Black men.

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To identify Day’s body, the coroner had to use dental records and DNA analysis that his family had previously provided to aid the search.

Many people were outraged that coverage surrounding Day’s disappearance and murder has been limited. 

Day’s mother described her son as “ambitious and driven,” and was bound for “great things.”

“He was focused,” Bolden Day said in an interview with ABC News. “He was energetic. He was full of life. Jelani was a person that you couldn’t help but love.”

There are no suspects at this time, but police are working to find out Day’s whereabouts during the last days that he was seen alive.

On October 9, friends and family of Jelani Day gathered at Danville High School to celebrate the 25-year-olds life and lasting legacy. 

“Somebody knows something, somebody’s seen something,” Bolden Day said, “I need somebody to say something.”

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.