NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — A month after the LaSalle County Coroner identified Jelani Day, 25, as the male body found in the Illinois River on Sept. 4, Day’s loved ones still find themselves with more questions than answers.
Family, friends, and even civil rights leaders are giving emotional calls to action for more information into Day’s final hours.
Reverend Jesse Jackson and members of his Rainbow Push Coalition spoke to Illinois State University’s Black Student Union Monday night.
Jackson discussed getting to the root of Day’s death.
“We know there’s a tape of him sitting on the campus, he goes into the restaurant and the tape stops,” Jackson said. “Then we find out two weeks later, face down in the river.”
Jackson made it clear that he believes Day was murdered and that his suspected killers are still wandering free.
“The persons that killed Jelani Day are alive tonight, walking the streets among us,” Jackson said. “Whoever killed him, let the record show it.”
Jackson said he doesn’t think local investigators can be trusted with this case, and he’s calling for the state’s Attorney General, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and President Biden to all get on board with the investigation.
During the meeting, dozens of ISU students chanted “We want answers” and “Justice for Jelani.”
Day’s mother, Carmen Bolden Day, was among those in the audience who said justice has yet to be served and wants more help from state leaders.
“I want y’all to just pester the state of Illinois Attorney General’s office until he gets tired of everybody calling him,” Day said. “Until he gets tired of filtering emails.”
On Monday afternoon, the LaSalle County Coroner. Richard Ploch, released the official cause of Day’s death as drowning.
Ploch also stated that there was no sign of any antemortem injuries, such as manual strangulation, an assault or altercation, sharp, blunt, or gunshot injuries.
Both Jackson and Day said they don’t believe the findings, and Day said her son was strong, and he wouldn’t harm himself.
“No, Jelani didn’t hurt himself, no, Jelani didn’t drown himself,” Day said. “No, Jelani didn’t do this to himself, somebody did this to Jelani.”
Jackson said there will be a march and rally for Day, Tuesday at noon. It starts at the Peru Police Department at 2650 N. Peoria Street and goes toward the Illinois Valley YMCA at 300 Walnut St.