The FBI is offering a $10,000 award for tips in the death of Illinois State graduate student Jelani Day, reported NBC News. Day, 25, was found Sept 44. in the Illinois River. The coroner ruled his death as a drowning which his family has since disputed, suspecting foul play was involved.
So far, authorities say Day was last seen Aug 24. at a dispensary in Bloomington wearing the same clothing that was found in his car which was reportedly “concealed” a mile away from where his body was found, per a WGLT report.
The LaSalle County Coroner Richard Ploch concluded Day’s death was by drowning with no signs of injury, assault, natural disease or drug intoxication, NBC reported. However, his family insisted Day was an avid swimmer and didn’t suffer from any mental illness that would lead him to a suicide attempt, per WGLT.
Day’s mother, Carmen Bolden Day, wrote a letter with the Nu Epsilon chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. to demand a federal investigation.
From NBC News:
The FBI initially announced the $10,000 reward in December. It was a part of a nationwide, multiplatform social media campaign through the Jelani Day Joint Task Force to seek new leads “regarding Day’s final hours leading to the identification of new witnesses or evidence in this case.”
“Investigators believe the full cooperation of the public and Day’s close contacts may be key to understanding the facts and circumstances surrounding Day’s death,” a news release states.
His death was announced just around the time Gabby Petito went missing, losing media attention under the national search for the late blogger. The family previously stated they were hurt to see the disparity in how cases like Petito’s were covered in comparison to missing people of color.
“Jelani just didn’t disappear. Somebody knows what happened. Somebody needs to report what happened,” he said. “We need everybody involved, the same way they were involved with Gabby,” said Day’s brother via NBC News.