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Illinois State grad student Jelani Day celebrated at hometown service

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Jelani Day

DANVILLE – Hundreds filled Danville High School’s auditorium on Saturday, October 9, to celebrate the life of Jelani Day.

The 25-year-old was reported missing in late August. At the time, he was pursuing a graduate degree in speech pathology at Illinois State University.

Speakers celebrated Day’s dream of becoming a doctor. And how he pursued speech pathology because of a childhood friend’s struggle to talk.

On September 4, crews pulled a body from the Illinois River in Peru. On September 23, the LaSalle County coroner identified the badly decomposed body as belonging to Day. Police have not released the cause of death but say it’s suspicious.

Carmen Bolden Day is Jelani’s mother. She asked mourners to help her put pressure on law enforcement to get answers.

“When we make out those calls and we put out the word that we need you guys to call,” said Day. “If I need ask y’all to call the FBI, believe me, I need y’all to call the FBI. The struggle continues though because I can’t let this rest.”

A post on the Justice for Jelani Day Facebook page, said Monday’s scheduled burial is being postponed because of the investigation into the grad student’s disappearance and death.

Funeral services were paid by the rapper Offset.

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Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick is the News & Public Affairs Director for the Illinois Newsroom. He started at WILL in October of 2019 after serving as News Director for WKAR in East Lansing, Michigan. Previously, he was a news producer and manager at the NBC station in Dallas, where he won 7 Emmy awards. Born in Vietnam, Reginald is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. Email: rh14@illinois.edu Twitter: @RNewsWILL

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