ILLINOIS (WMBD) — A bill that could help solve crimes in Illinois in the new year will go into effect starting Jan. 1, 2023.
Senate Bill 3932, known as the Jelani Day Bill, will now require FBI involvement in cases where human remains are not identified within 72 hours.
Named in honor of deceased Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day; Democrat Senator Elgie Sims introduced the bill this past January in hopes of preventing another Jelani Day case; where families go weeks without answers and still little closure.
“I don’t know what happened. I just want to know what happened to my child,” said Carmen Bolden-Day, Jelani’s mom, in an August interview with WMBD’s Shelbey Roberts.
Since her son went missing in Bloomington-Normal during the summer of 2021, Bolden-Day said in that same interview, she has had more questions than answers ever since about what happened to her son.
“I don’t know why my son is six feet under the ground. I didn’t get to see him. I did not get to look at him. So I don’t have any closure,” Bolden-Day said.
The ISU graduate student was missing for two weeks before his body was found near the Illinois River in Peru, Illinois. However, it took another three weeks for the La Salle County Coroner to positively identify the body as Day’s.
“It’s the same set of eyes doing the same set of things so I’m going to get the same results,” Bolden-Day said in August of 2022.
But come Jan. 1, The Jelani Day Bill hopes to bring closure to grieving families sooner. It was an amendment to the Missing Persons Identification Act. The bill passed the senate 43-4 and the House unanimously.
Now in 2023 and going forward, all remains in the custody of a county coroner must be turned over to the FBI if they remained unidentified after 72 hours.
“I think the FBI has certainly vast resources and databases that can help, whether it’s fingerprinting or DNA,” said State Senator Dave Koehler.
Local coroners reacted to the bill. Tazewell County Coroner, Charles Hanley sent WMBD a statement that reads:
The Tazewell County Coroner’s Office has a long history of working hand and hand with our local law enforcement partners in any of our death investigations. Along with the local resources, we have always had the availability of the Illinois State Police Crime Service Investigations and the Zone 4 Investigations Unit. The FBI is another available resource to us.