LaSalle County emails give more insight into agencies involved in Jelani Day investigation

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 7:18 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 NEWS) - Emails from agencies across Illinois gives more insight into the investigation of Jelani Day since he was reported missing August 25 and his car found in a wooded area in Peru the next day.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, 25 News requested the email communications from the LaSalle County Sheriff’s office, the coroner and the Emergency Management Agency.

Nearly 300 documents date from Sept. 1 through Oct. 15 and show more than a dozen agencies are involved in Day’s death investigation.

Those agencies include Peru and Bloomington Police Departments and crime labs, the FBI’s behavioral analyst unit and the Illinois Search and Research Council.

During this period, Day’s body was found in the Illinois River Sept. 4 and his identity was confirmed by LaSalle County coroner Sept. 23.

Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigator Brandi Field made the initial request for a multi-agency major-case review Sept. 30.

“Unfortunately the investigation into Mr. Day’s death continues to appear to get larger and larger,” Field said in an email to state police.

“Because of this, I am requesting a major case review involving all three labs receiving/processing evidence,” she added.

Cari Gordon-Sandberg, acting lab director for ISP’s Morton Forensic Science Laboratory, agreed in an email response.

Five items of evidence from Day’s car were sent to ISP forensic labs from Bloomington’s crime labs and those include swabs of the driver and passenger side interior door handles, a blue straw from a styrofoam cup and a partially smoked cigar blunt.

Other emails included LaSalle County Coroner Richard Ploch explaining what he called misinformation a news agency reported about organs missing from Day’s body.

“No organs were missing from his body,” Ploch said in an email to a media outlet requesting information about Day’s body.

“Some were severely decomposed because the body had been in the river for several days,” he added.

He also clarified that Day’s jaw and long bone were surgically removed for forensic dental and DNA identification, which is a common practice.

Our LaSalle County Freedom of Information Request covered September through mid-November.

The county asked for an extension on the last 30-days of it.

25 News is also seeking information from other involved agencies.

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