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State police denies request for 'major case review' documents in Jelani Day case
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State police denies request for 'major case review' documents in Jelani Day case

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BLOOMINGTON — Illinois State Police denied a request for documents related to Jelani Day’s death investigation, stating a release of information could “significantly impact” criminal proceedings.

Earlier this month, The Pantagraph reviewed LaSalle County documents involving Day, a 25-year-old Danville native and Illinois State University student who was found dead in the Illinois River on Sept. 4.

Among those documents, ISP Crime Scene Investigator Trooper Brandi Field requested a major case review in an email sent Sept. 30 and asked that the related cases for Day open at the Peru, LaSalle and Bloomington police departments, the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office and ISP Zone 3 be “linked,” noting “almost all the agencies have evidence for their prospective case.”

Illinois State Police

A portion of the Illinois State Police Freedom Information Act request letter in the Jelani Day case is shown. 

The Pantagraph requested documents related to the major case review, but after an extension, ISP denied the request, citing a 1994 appellate case opinion: “Law enforcement operations have little hope of being effective if conducted in full public view … Without the grant of confidentiality, the public is less likely to cooperate with an investigation and wrongdoing will go undetected or unsolved.”

The agency claimed exemptions of the Freedom of Information Act in the denial, including an exemption claimed by the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office.

“Due to this being a current ongoing Death Investigation… any information released at this time could hinder the investigative efforts and would request that ISP not release any documents at this time. Releasing reports/documents could hinder obtaining potential future leads or information regarding this investigation,” according to a statement from Sgt. Investigator Josh McGrath.

ISP said releasing information could affect witness statements during the investigation and potential trial, as well as “taint a jury pool.”

“Releasing the case file before the review and before formal criminal proceedings are concluded would significantly impact the outcome of the case and would deprive involved parties of their due process and fair trial,” the agency wrote.

Law enforcement officials have not released any statement indicating Day’s death was ruled a homicide; according to the LaSalle County Coroner’s Office, his cause of death was drowning.

However, Day’s family has been adamant in their belief that he was murdered, calling for national attention on the case, including an appearance on Dr. Oz this week.

The Bloomington Police Department also denied a request for reports connected to Day citing the active investigation.


Continuing Pantagraph coverage in the Jelani Day case

Jelani "J.J." Day, 25, was last seen on Aug. 24 entering the Beyond/Hello dispensary in Bloomington. Authorities on Sept. 23 said his body was found in the Illinois River. 

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Graduate student Jelani Day was last seen the morning of Aug. 24.

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Jelani Day, a 25-year-old graduate student at ISU, was last seen the morning of Aug. 24 walking into the Beyond / Hello in Bloomington, accord…

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A 25-year-old ISU graduate student remains missing. Here's what we know.

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Authorities are investigating after body was recovered Saturday morning from the Illinois River near LaSalle-Peru.

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"I want you to know, Jelani is not dead and we will find him," said his mother, speaking to a crowd of supporters on Friday night. 

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Carmen Bolden Day, mother of missing Illinois State University student Jelani Day, speaks at an event Friday night in support of the search for him.

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"I just want to hear him call me and say, 'Mama, I just called you because I want to hear your voice,'" Jelani Day's mother said Wednesday. 

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Carmen Bolden Day, mother of Jelani Day, recounts the last phone call she had with her son prior to his disappearance. Several people gathered…

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BLOOMINGTON — Police, family and friends continue to search for Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day after he went missing last week. He was last on video camera on Aug. 24 at the Bone Student Center on campus.

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Bloomington police said Friday that officers are continuing their search for Illinois State University graduate student Jelani J.J. Day, 25, who was reported missing Wednesday by his family.

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Jelani J.J. Day was reported missing Wednesday by his family and an Illinois State University faculty member.

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The president of Illinois State University during her annual address to the campus community spoke about a graduate student who has been missing. 

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"We always say here, see something, hear something, know something, say something. Someone out there has seen, heard or knows something."

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Chance Seales with "Newsy Tonight" interviews Carmen Boldon Day, mother of missing Illinois State University student Jelani Day. READ MORE HERE.

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Authorities on Thursday said a body discovered in a river nearly three weeks ago has been confirmed as a graduate student missing from Illinoi…

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A body found floating in the Illinois River in LaSalle County has been identified as that of missing Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day, according to the Bloomington Police Department.

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Missing ISU student identified after body found near Peru. READ MORE HERE.

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Bloomington police Officer John Fermon during a press conference discusses the search for Jelani Day, the Illinois State University student wh…

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The LaSalle County Sheriff's Office announced this afternoon a person of interest sought by Peru Police has been cleared by investigators and is not a suspect in the case.

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Among the attendees is the Rev. Jesse Jackson. This burial comes 10 days after the family held a funeral service at Danville High School to honor the Illinois State University grad student.

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Anyone with information on Jelani Day's death is asked to call 815-433-2161.

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Hallie Bezner, attorney for Day’s family, also told The Pantagraph: “I think that people read between the lines to try to have some conspiracy that doesn't exist."

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State law enforcement officials told The Pantagraph on Sunday that DNA backlogs did not slow down confirmation of the body found in the Illinois River last month as Jelani Day.

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Teachers at Danville High School saw great potential in Jelani Day.

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During Jelani Day's celebration of life, his four siblings sing a tribute backs by a community choir. READ MORE HERE.

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Carmen Bolden Day says to work does not end with laying her son to rest. READ MORE HERE.

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“You’re not going to forget his name because I’m not going to let you,” Carmen Bolden Day said on Saturday. 

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  • 9 min to read

Pantagraph journalists spent last week in Danville speaking to those who knew Day, and they described him as big-hearted, hard-working and on a path to success. 

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“He will never be forgotten, Dr. Jelani J.J. Day,” mother Carmen Bolden Day said at the event. "They're going to remember Jelani's name forever.”

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"Thank you for realizing Jelani was important, not just to us, he was important to everybody," his mother, Carmen Bolden Day, said. 

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BLOOMINGTON — A change.org petition asking for state and federal authorities to investigate the death of Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day has gathered nearly 15,000 signatures. 

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson told The Pantagraph he expects as many as 1,000 people to attend a Friday march in Bloomington-Normal for Jelani Day, whose mysterious death has stirred national attention. 

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks with The Pantagraph Thursday morning about the planned march in Bloomington and Normal for Jelani Day, the Illin…

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"We want to gain one thing, and that is justice for Jelani Day," said Cameron Barnes, national youth director with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

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In response to a letter sent this month by state Rep. Kambium Buckner, Peru Police Chief Robert Pyszka said that investigators with the multi-jurisdictional unit gave all files in the case of Jelani Day's death to the FBI.

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ISU student Emily Escobedo talks asks for a more thorough investigation into the death of graduate student Jelani Day

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The autopsy results released this week in the Jelani Day case have not changed his family’s message.

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Carmen Bolden Day, mother of Jelani Day, addresses supporters who showed up Friday to a march led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson for her son. Activ…

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson and hundreds marched from Bloomington to Normal on Friday for Jelani Day, the Illinois State student whose death remains a mystery. 

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson took part in a march Friday for Jelani Day, the Illinois State University student whose remains were found in the Illin…

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Marchers move through Bloomington calling for an investigation into the death of Jelani Day. READ MORE HERE.

Contact Kelsey Watznauer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @kwatznauer.

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