Questions Swirl Around Death of Jelani Day, 'Avid Swimmer' Who Mom Believes 'Was Drowned Against His Will'

"An avid swimmer doesn't drown himself," Carmen Bolden Day told CNN Tuesday

Jelani Day
Jelani Day. Photo: Justice for Jelani Day Facebook

Jelani Day's mother is having a hard time accepting the findings of medical examiners in Illinois.

On Tuesday, Carmen Bolden Day attended a march for her son in Peru, Ill., less than 24 hours after the LaSalle County Coroner's Office announced its determination: that Day, the 25-year-old graduate student whose body was found in the Illinois River last month, died from drowning.

The report further noted there were no signs of pre-death injury, but conceded that the body's advanced state of decomposition made such a determination a near impossibility.

"Help me find justice," Bolden Day told the crowd that had gathered outside the Peru Police Department. "It's been way too long not to have answers. I need to know why. I need to know the hows."

Later, she appeared on CNN, and said her son was "an avid swimmer."

"An avid swimmer doesn't drown himself," she said. "So Jelani ended up here against his will, he ended up in that river against his will. He was drowned against his will. So, that is all equivalent to murder."

Day was an aspiring speech pathologist, enrolled as a graduate student at Illinois State University. He was last seen in Bloomington, Ill., on Aug. 24, and reported missing the following day.

On Aug. 26, Day's car was located in Peru, a town his mother says he is unfamiliar with.

His remains were pulled from the river on Sept. 3. His mother is asking federal officials to take over the investigation into Jelani's death.

While coroners say they are confident about Day's cause of death, a press release issued Monday notes that "the manner in which Mr. Day went into the Illinois River is currently unknown."

Speaking to CNN, Bolden Day addressed speculation that Day committed suicide.

"There are plenty of bodies of water in Bloomington," Bolden Day said. "We're in Peru. A town that Jelani doesn't have any friends. His car was parked in a wooded area that you wouldn't have even known how to get to had you not heard about this."

She told CNN her son deserves justice, and for the truth to be made known.

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Earlier this month, the grieving mom appeared on Good Morning America and described Day as "ambitious" and "driven."

"He was focused," Bolden Day continued. "He was energetic. He was full of life. Jelani was a person that you couldn't help but love."

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