An autopsy has revealed that an Illinois State University student who was found in the Illinois River, died of drowning.
Jelani Day, 25, was reported missing on August 25 after missing several classes. The next day his abandoned car was discovered in a wooded area in Peru.
His body was eventually found in the Illinois River on September 4, and identified several weeks later.
While the autopsy indicated that Day drowned, LaSalle County Coroner Richard Ploch noted: ‘The manner in which Mr. Day went into the Illinois River is currently unknown.’
He also stated: ‘There was no evidence of any (pre-death) injury, such as manual strangulation, an assault or altercation, sharp, blunt, or gunshot injury, infection, tumor, natural disease, congenital abnormality, or significant drug intoxication.’
An autopsy determined that Jelani Day drowned but did not determine the manner of his death
Day’s family is denying that he drowned alone but insist that the Master’s student was murdered (Pictured: Carmen Bolden Day, center, and Rev. Jesse Jackson, right, lead a protest in LaSalle-Peru on Tuesday)
‘MY BABY WAS KILLED…HE DID NOT DROWN HIMSELF,’ Bolden Day wrote on Facebook the day after the autopsy was released (Pictured: Carmen Bolden Day, center left, and Rev. Jesse Jackson, center right, addressed the crowd and the media outside the Peru Police Department)
The family has stated that they ordered a second and third autopsy.
Questions continue to swirl around Day’s death and his family, namely his mother Carmen Bolden Day, is leading the charge in demanding answers.
Online reports claim some of Day’s organs were missing during a second independent autopsy, but Day’s mother has denied rumors that her son’s organs might have been harvested.
‘I don’t care what their press releases say, MY BABY WAS KILLED…HE DID NOT DROWN HIMSELF!!!’ she wrote in a Tuesday Facebook post. She noted that her son was an ‘avid’ swimmer, was ‘determined about his future,’ and had no history of ‘suicidal ideations.’
‘These police departments want an EASY way out,’ she posted claiming that the police ‘DIDN’T do their job’ and that the ‘evidence DOESN’T add up.’ She then listed questions she has for the department such as: ‘what cameras did you check within a 48 hour timeframe?’ and ‘who did you question?’
Day’s family lead a march through La Salle-Peru on Tuesday demanding a more in-depth investigation into the Master’s student’s death.
The grieving family was joined by local residents and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a Civil Rights group led by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, as reported by WGLT.
Day was reported missing on August 25 after he missed several classes for his Master’s degree in speech pathology at Illinois State University (Pictured: Jelani Day, left, with his mother Carmen Bolden Day, right, at a graduation ceremony)
Friends, family, and activists have criticized investigating authorities for the level of attention and urgency that they gave the case (Pictured: People hold ‘Justice for Jelani Day’ signs ahead of the march and rally on Tuesday)
Day’s car was found in a wooded area the day after he was reported missing. A body was found in the Illinois River on September 4 and identified as Day’s several weeks later (Pictured: Carmen Bolden Day, left, smiling with her son Jelani Day, right)
Bolden Day addressed the crowd of protestors noting what she claims are inconsistencies in her son’s death: ‘You will see the location of where the car was, and how they said where the body was found, where they said the clothes were found, where they said the wallet was found, where they said the lanyard was found, none of these are in the proper distance.’
‘None of these are anything Jelani would have purposely drove his car, took off his license plates, not have his phone, throw away his key, take off his clothes and go into a river,’ his mother said.
She insisted: ‘Jelani wouldn’t have done that. At all. He was drowned against his will.’
Jonathan Jackson, Rev. Jackson’s son also spoke to the crowd on Tuesday. ‘A multi-jurisdictional investigations tells me no one is in charge,’ he said calling on the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the FBI to take over the investigation.
It is currently being handled by the Peru Police Department, La Salle Police Department, Bloomington Police Department, La Salle County Sheriff’s Office and Illinois State Police.
‘We do not believe he did this to himself,’ Jackson declared echoing the family’s claims.
In a statement last week Rev. Jackson claimed: ‘it smells like another Emmett Till case all over again.’
Day’s family has criticized the police’s handling of the case from the beginning claiming that the young black man’s case has been handled with as much attention and urgency as Gabby Petito’s case was.
Day was a graduate student at Illinois State University studying to get his Master’s degree in speech pathology to become a doctor.
He was last seen on August 24 when the 25-year-old was seen on surveillance footage in a dispensary in Bloomington. His white Chrysler 300 was found by police the next day about 60 miles north of Bloomington containing the clothes he was wearing in the dispensary.
After several days of searching, a body was found nearly a mile from the car off the south bank of the Illinois River. The body was later identified as Day’s.
Day’s brother, Seve, was quickly filled with more questions after he viewed the body. He isn’t convinced that the body found along the Illinois River on September 4.
‘My brother went missing on August 24 and they found the body on September 4. So that’s not a long time,’ Seve told Insider. ‘The body they identified as my brother … it looks like it’s been in the water for years.’
‘You couldn’t identify whether it was male or female because there was no genitalia,’ he added. ‘You couldn’t tell the skin color because it was so pale and worn down. The face itself is something you would see in a science lab.’
He insist officials ‘are not being straightforward’ with the family claiming that there are some things ‘that they are trying to cover up.’
Statement released by Jelani Day’s siblings on October 12
First we just want to express our thanks for the continuous support from everyone. We know a lot of you have been reaching out and if we haven’t read or responded yet we will, just give us some time. Secondly, we know majority of you have read the accurate Sun Times article, seen other post about our brothers body and also been reading our mother’s post.
Our mom is trying to focus on one thing and that is who murdered our brother. She has been doing an amazing job. As far as the body there are things that are missing that we do not have an accurate explanation as to why they are missing. We also have questions as to why the first autopsy results differ with the second autopsy results.
Per the second autopsy, the Pathologist didn’t have all the body parts/organs for the body they identified as our brother Jelani Day. Also according to the second autopsy the pathologist was confused as to why the first pathologist did what he did to our brothers body to perform the autopsy itself.
Furthermore, the second pathologist was confused as to why he didn’t have the whole body and we are under the impression that the state lab still has body parts in their possession. Also there are major organs that are damaged or in their words ‘mush & liquefied’.
WE ARE NOT taking organ harvesting off the table but still our mothers wishes are not to make organ harvesting the main focus. We are unsure if the whole body was there so this is why we didn’t do a burial. This is why we are in the process of getting a 3rd autopsy done due to numerous amounts of conflicting information from the 1st and 2nd autopsy.
They have been keeping us in the dark and we the family have been working to get answers. Due to the distrust this is why we suspect foul play of the La Salle county coroner, La Salle sheriff office, La Salle PD, Peru PD and Bloomington PD. For these reasons this is why we want/need the FBI Involved as well.
Thank you for your understanding and please respect our families privacy and wishes by not contacting our mom with your questions. Please give her time to breathe, think and sleep. Thank you again, God Bless #JusticeforJelaniDay ‘