The search for Jelani “JJ” Day came to a tragic end when a body found floating in the Illinois River was identified as the missing graduate student.
After Day was reported missing on August 25th, his family was persistent in their search. They have pleaded with authorities for help to find him and criticized them for the lack of urgency in the search. The family also called out officials who prioritized the case of Gabby Petito, the Internet blogger who recently was found dead during a cross-country trip with her fiancé, over Day who went missing around the same time.
His mother, Carmen Bolden Day highlighted the differences in the attention brought to her son’s disappearance in comparison to Petito, who was a white woman.
“I want them to look for my child like they’re looking for her,” she expressed in an interview with a local television station. “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.”
The Petito case brought forth what experts have deemed as “missing white woman syndrome.” This means that white women who are particularly young and blonde get most of the media’s attention versus the thousands of Black people who are still reported missing.
Day was a graduate student at Illinois State University who was last seen on August 24th on the university’s campus. The 25-year-old was studying to get his master’s degree in speech pathology.
Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of Jelani Day.