Police: Jelani Day’s death “unusual”

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LASALLE COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — “He was loved by many people in our town in our city and we want justice,” Pastor Lestan Hoskins said.

It’s a case that touched people not just in Central Illinois, but across the country. They’re grieving after a body found in the Illinois River was identified as a missing ISU student.

Jelani Day disappeared almost a month ago and while the Lasalle County Coroner identified his body today. His family says they still have questions. Police say it’s still an active investigation. They said they are looking to figure out what happened to Jelani Day.

“Foul play or not, it’s unusual,” John Fermon, Bloomington Police Department, said.

That’s what Bloomington Police are saying after a body found in the Illinois River was identified as 25-year-old Jelani Day.

“Just right off the bat was unusual,” Fermon said. 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 go.”

Police say at this point they are not ruling out foul play as part of their death investigation. His cause of death has not been released.

“This isn’t one that since his body was located we just stopped. That’s just not how law enforcement works and that’s not how we work. We’re still going to investigate, especially the circumstances around it,” Fermon said.

Day’s family and friends have been desperate to find him since he was last seen on August 24th. For them, this news is the worst case scenario. Pastor Lestan Hoskins knew day.

“So much is going through my head,” Pastor Hoskins said. “I’m saddened. ‘I’m just hurt because Jelani was one of us.”

Day’s family says their hearts are broken and they’re asking for prayers, but they’re also still looking for help. They’ve hired a private investigation service to help police.

Part of a statement from them reads: “As of this moment, we do not know what happened to Jelani and we will not stop until we do.”

Hoskin also wants answers.

“We want the truth to come out. We want the facts. We want to know what happened. We want people to be held accountable if there is foul play,” Pastor Hoskins said.

He says Day was loved by so many people.

“He would tell me about his plans and how he waned to be a speech pathologist and how he’s so focused. He was all around ambitious. He was a focused kid and he was a good kid just all around,” Pastor Hoskins said.

Hoskins just hopes Day’s family can get their answers soon and leaves them with this message.

“We support you. If you need anything we’re here for you. We’re behind you all the way. In terms of justice, we want to know what happened and if something has happened somebody should be held accountable for it,” Hoskins said.

Bloomington Police were asked why it took so long to identify Day. They said they’re not sure.

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