Jelani Day cause of death: Illinois coroner releases new information

On Monday, the LaSalle County coroner released the cause of death for Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day.

Medical examiner Richard Ploch says 25-year-old Day died by drowning. However, Ploch says although the death was caused by drowning, investigators are still not sure how Day ended up in the water.

"There was no evidence of any antemortem injury, such as manual strangulation, an assault or altercation, sharp, blunt, or gunshot injury, infection, tumor, natural disease, congenital abnormality, or significant drug intoxication. The manner in which Mr. Day went into the Illinois River is currently unknown," Ploch said.

Illinois authorities continue to investigate the case.

The mother of Day buried her son last week, but there is still a mystery of what happened to him after he went missing in late August.

The Peru Police Department is handling the investigation, but Illinois State Representative Kam Buckner wants that to change. He wrote a letter to the police chief asking him to hand over the entire investigation to the Illinois State Police or the FBI.

"18 days from the day his body was found in order for it to be identified. Even with dental records. Now lets juxtapose that against a similar case … the case of Brian Laundrie. The FBI was a part of that investigation and led that investigation and they found his remains on Wednesday of this week and yesterday on Thursday of this week they were able to identify who he was based on his dental records. That's a one-day period versus an 18-day period," Buckner said.

Peru police did acknowledge they received Buckner’s letter.

Day was last seen on security footage on Aug. 24. He was reported missing on Aug. 25. On September 5, his body was found in the Illinois River.

The family is upset that the FBI is looking at whether he might have committed suicide.

"He had a sound mind. He was not troubled by anything. We had just spoken on Monday. We have a family vacation that's planned for Thanksgiving. We were planning for that vacation," said mother Carmen Bolden-Day in early October.

His family is offering a more than $25,000 reward for information leading to what happened to Jelani.

"My son did not put himself in a river. My son was murdered and my goal and purpose are to find out what happened and hold those responsible accountable!" said his mother in a statement.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. attended the burial service in Danville last week.

In a statement, Rev. Jackson said he agrees with Day's mother.

"Jelani was brutally murdered in Peru, Illinois and found faced down in the Illinois River. We are requesting a thorough investigation because local officials have been very difficult to deal with. They have not been forthcoming," he said.


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