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Jelani Day's phone has been found

Jelani Day
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Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day went missing Aug. 24. His body was discovered Sept. 4 in Peru, Ill.

A missing piece in the Jelani Day death investigation has been found.

The LaSalle County Sheriff's department confirmed to WGLT that Day's cell phone has been located. Sheriff Adam Diss said the phone is being sent to the FBI for "further forensic analysis."

Day, an Illinois State graduate student, was reported missing from Bloomington on Aug. 25. His car was located the next day in a wooded area in Peru, Ill. Day's body was found in the nearby Illinois River on Sept. 4.

Some of Day's personal effects, including his wallet and ISU lanyard, were recovered in or near Peru following his disappearance. His phone was not recovered at the time.

It's unclear exactly where the phone was found. According to Day's mother, Carmen Bolden Day, the phone was found in October on the side of an interstate in Bloomington. It was found when a man stopped to retrieve a mattress that had fallen off his vehicle, she said.

The unidentified man took the phone, which Bolden Day described as "shattered," to Walmart and turned it in for cash. According to Bolden Day, the man was paid $80 for the phone on Oct. 17.

Days later, Bolden Day said, the man was contacted by someone from the Bloomington Police Department who informed him the phone had been identified as belonging to Day.

Bolden Day said she learned of the story on Nov. 11 from a Facebook post written by an acquaintance of the man who'd found the phone. When she contacted BPD later that day, Bolden Day said a spokesperson confirmed the department was in possession of the phone.

According to Bolden Day, the BPD spokesperson said police hadn't contacted her because they "wanted to be sure" the phone belonged to her son. Bolden Day said she was then asked if she wanted BPD to look through the phone.

Bolden Day requested that the phone be turned over to the FBI. She and her supporters have made repeated calls for the FBI to take over the investigation into Jelani's disappearance and death.

WGLT reached out to BPD spokesperson John Fermon for comment. He referred all questions back to the LaSalle County sheriff.

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Sarah Nardi is a WGLT reporter. She previously worked for the Chicago Reader covering Arts & Culture.
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