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Missing Illinois student Jelani Day drowned, coroner says

Jelani Day, an Illinois State University graduate student whose body was found in the Illinois River 10 days after he went missing, died of drowning, according to a coroner’s report released Monday.

Day, 25, was a speech therapy student on campus near Bloomington when her family reported her missing on August 25. His car was found the next day, causing researchers to focus on areas north of Bloomington, near the river, police said.

Rescue teams found Day’s body floating in the river near the city of Peru on September 4, according to the Bloomington Police Department, which is investigating his case.

Police said a security video showed Day going to a Bloomington cannabis dispensary called Beyond / Hello on the morning of August 24. It was “his last known location,” the department said in a statement last month.

The footage included the clothes he wore when visiting the dispensary, police said: a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt, a Detroit Lions baseball cap, light-colored shorts and black shoes, all in his car when it was found, they said.

Richard Ploch, the LaSalle County Coroner, said there was no evidence of injury, assault, altercation, gunfire, tumors, infection, natural illness, problems cardiac or “serious drug intoxication”.

Image: Jelani Day (Bloomington, Illinois, Police Department)

Day’s case has gone national following media coverage of Gabby Petito, 22, who received global attention after she was reported missing on September 11 and found dead eight days later. Critics have noted that missing people of color often don’t get the same kind of media attention.

Her mother, Carmen Bolden Day, suggested that foul play may have played a role in her death.

“He was not depressed,” she said last month. “He didn’t have any kind of pressure that would make him want to escape life. So I feel like someone was involved.”

Earlier this month, she joined Day’s old fraternity, the Nu Epsilon chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity of Alabama A&M University, her alma mater, to call on federal officials to take over the investigating his death.

A petition calling for federal intervention included a letter from the chapter which read: “The person (s) responsible for Jelani’s death now walk freely in our community, and we will not rest until those responsible are brought to justice.” “

Neither Day nor the Bloomington Police Department immediately responded to requests for comment.

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