NORMAL, Ill. – Twenty-five-year-old Jelani Day is a graduate student studying to get his master’s in speech pathology at Illinois State University. He was last seen Aug. 24 and hasn’t been heard from since.
Police found his car, a 2010 White Crysler 300 with a blacktop, in a wooded area in Peru, Illinois, a few days later.
“Nothing is more important to me than getting Jelani back,” Carmen Bolden Day, Jelani’s mother said. “I need help to find my son, it’s been 28 days.”
Jelani’s family from Danville and a faculty member reported Jelani missing after he did not show up for class for several days. Bloomington police said they need tips from the public in their ongoing search.
Carmen Bolden Day said they have not been receiving tips lately. She said it’s not like him to disappear without telling them his whereabouts.
“Now, we need another agency that has more resources,” she said. “It was just proven with the Gabby Petito case. She was missing, the FBI got involved, she was found within 3-4 days. Can I have the same help is all I’m asking.”
Carmen Bolden Day said she asked the police if the FBI could get involved and she said she was told that there was a “discussion” they were having.
Bloomington Police did not return Fox 2’s phone call Tuesday.
Carmen Bolden Day said her heart goes out to Gabby Petito’s family.
“I know what it feels like to be sitting in this seat, and you wanting your child back, wanting to know what’s wrong with your child. You want to know where your child is … My heart goes out to her,” she said.
“But I have a young black son that I want the same attention. I want the same effort given too.”
Theda Person is the founder of Looking for an Angel, a nonprofit she created after her son went missing at just nine years old. The nonprofit creates awareness for missing people.
“I can’t determine whose going to receive the blessings who won’t receive the blessings, but I can acknowledge the differences and the inequities,” Person said.
She also said that people in the community need to be aware of each person that is missing in their area so they can keep their eyes open for their loved ones. She said to treat each missing person like it’s your own family.
“Wherever you are, these people could be anywhere, this means we should have our eyes totally focused on whoever is missing,” she said.
While Carmen Bolden Day searches and waits for her son’s safe return, she said she just keeps praying.
“I have to trust God right now like I’ve never trusted him before, I have to believe things that I don’t see, that I can’t touch,” she added.
The family is offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads them to Day.
Anyone with information can contact their local police department or the Bloomington Illinois Police at 309-820-8888 or Detective Paul Jones at 309-434-2548.
To make a donation, visit the family’s Go Fund Me page.