‘Justice for Jelani Day’: County Coroner Determines Cause of Death

In Summary

The LaSalle County coroner has determined there was no sign of physical injury or medical conditions in the case of Jelani Day and that the 25-year-old drowned.  

A coroner in Illinois has determined the cause of death in the case of former missing Illinois State University graduate Jelani Day.  

PREVIOUS: Jelani Day’s Mother Says Son’s Organs Were Not Missing  

According to The Pantagraph, on Monday, the LaSalle County Coroner Richard Ploch determined Day died by drowning. In the cause of death opinion, Ploch wrote, “After consideration of the currently known circumstances surrounding his death, based upon review of the extensive available investigation, medical and dental information, and after postmortem examination with multiple ancillary and special studies, the cause of death of this positively identified 25-year-old male, Jelani Jesse Javonte Day, is drowning.”  

Ploch also said there was “no evidence of 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 Associated Press reported.  

RELATED: Body of Illinois State Graduate Student Jelani Day Identified by Officials   

Day was last seen on the campus of Illinois State University on August 24 before being reported missing on August 25. According to police, his car was found in Peru, Illinois, and agencies began searching for him in the area. A little more than a week later on September 4, a male body was found “near the south bank of the Illinois River,” and the body was identified as Day on September 23.   

His mother, Carmen Bolden Day, has spoken publicly about the disparities in the way cases of missing white people are handled compared to missing Black people.  

RELATED: Jelani Day’s Mother Highlights Racial Disparities in Handling of Case  

According to the Associated Press, Reverend Jesse Jackson said Day’s case looks like other cases of racially motivated killings. He and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition will march with Day’s family from the Peru Police Department to the location where Day’s car was found in August.  

It is unclear how Day got into the Illinois River. Multiple police agencies, including Illinois State Police, Bloomington Police Department, Peru Police Department, LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, are still investigating. 

RELATED: Celebration of Life Held for Jelani Day in His Hometown  

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.  

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