Did Jelani Day REALLY drown? Parents don't buy 'easy way out' offical verdict
LaSalle County Coroner Richard Ploch concluded that Jelani Day died by drawing after conducting an autopsy, seeming closing the case on the mysterious death of the 25-year-old. However, the family has refused to accept that conclusion and is calling for a more in-depth investigation into the matter. As the family highlighted, there are still many questions left to be answered, such as how Day, an "avid" swimmer ended up in the Illinois River.
Currently, authorities believe Day died by suicide after his body was found floating in the river on September 4. One report claimed the body was found with some organs missing, but that was later refuted by Day's mother Carmen Bolden-Day. The case quickly drew widespread attention, and condemnation, especially after it took authorities 19 days to identify his body when Gabby Petito was identified within just 2 days.
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Right from the start, Day's mother has been a vocal activist for her missing son and continues to pressure the authorities even after a cause of death has been made. It must be noted that even the coroner was aware that the autopsy doesn't tell the full story. In his report, Ploch wrote, "The manner in which Mr. Day went into the Illinois River is currently unknown." That has prompted the family to slam the authorities and ask them to continue their investigations.
Did Jelani Day really drown?
So far, we know Day's body was found in the Illinois River, and that the autopsy failed to find any other causes of death. Ploch noted 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." Based on that report, it has been concluded Day died by drowning.
The big question is though, whether it was suicide, as the police believe it to be. In a Facebook post, Carmen wrote, "don't care what their press releases say, MY BABY WAS KILLED.....
HE DID NOT DROWN HIMSELF!!!" She added, "HE COULD SWIM, he was an AVID swimmer, and swimmers DO NOT in general commit suicide by drowning... He's NEVER had suicide attempts in the past, didn't have mental health issues, which are all indicators of a suicidal person, MY SON DIDN'T HAVE NOT EVER SHOW THOSE INDICATORS!! An individual who has had NO history, EVER of suicidal ideations, thoughts or attempts is NOT likely to commit suicide in the future." She went on to add that the police "didn't do their job" and "want an EASY way out." She called the conclusions "bs", and noted, "the facts don't add up."
As Carmen noted, several findings dispute the conclusion that Day died by suicide. For one, he had no known history of mental health issues or suicide attempts. For another, his clothes were found in his car, which was located a mile away from where the body was found. Then there's also the condition of the body. "The body they identified as my brother... it looks like it's been in the water for years," Day's brother Steve told Insider.
On October 26, the family also led a march through La Salle-Peru demanding a more in-depth investigation. "He was drowned against his will," she told attendees. Right from the start, the family has been critical of the police investigation, but Carmen's Facebook post on October 26 is one of the most direct attacks on the departments handling the case. Currently, the investigation is a multi-agency effort between the Peru Police Department, La Salle Police Department, Bloomington Police Department, La Salle County Sheriff's Office, and Illinois State Police. Day's family wants the Illinois Attorney General's Office and the FBI to take over the investigation.
Steve added that officials are "not being straightforward" with the family, and hinted that "they are trying to cover up" something. Carmen concluded her Facebook post by saying she was going to "make sure" Day got justice.