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It’s been going on two months since the body of 25-year-old Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day was found off the south bank of the Illinois River.

Jelani Day


The grisly discovery happened 10 days after Day was first reported missing on Aug. 25. Now the LaSalle County coroner has finally officially revealed the cause of death, but neither Day’s family nor his supporters, like Rev. Jesse Jackson, are satisfied with the coroner’s report, which they feel implies Day drowned himself.

According to CNN, LaSalle County Coroner Richard Ploch wrote in his report Monday that the cause of Day’s death was drowning but “the manner in which Mr. Day went into the Illinois River is currently unknown.”

Ploch noted that the decomposition of Day’s body made his job difficult, but he was able to determine that “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.”

But Day’s grieving family has had to endure the mystery around his disappearance and death for too long to not be frustrated by a report that really doesn’t contain new information and makes it seem like Day’s death is just some random tragedy that no one is responsible for.

“That is a narrative that my son did something to himself. He did not,” Jelani’s mother, Carmen Bolden Day, said Monday at a general assembly meeting of Illinois State’s Black Student Union. “Somebody did this to him, and they are going to be held responsible for doing what they did to my son.”

Jackson was also in attendance at the meeting and he took things even further in explicitly suggesting that Day was murdered and that his killers are now roaming free.

“We know there’s a tape of him sitting on the campus, he goes into the restaurant and the tape stops,” Jackson said, according to “Then we find out two weeks later, face down in the river.”

“The persons that killed Jelani Day are alive tonight, walking the streets among us,” he continued. “Whoever killed him, let the record show it.”

As for Ploch’s report on Day’s cause of death, Jackson echoed Carmen’s sentiments by saying, “I don’t believe it. That’s a suicide line. We don’t believe it. The Department of Justice and the attorney general needs to be a part of this.”

“I want y’all to just pester the state of Illinois Attorney General’s office until he gets tired of everybody calling him. “Until he gets tired of filtering emails,” Carmen said in agreement with Jackson.

Since Day’s story first hit the news, every development has seemed like no real development at all and has left his family with more questions than answers.

We wish them peace, but, as always, we know justice must come first.




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