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FBI renews calls for tips in death of Illinois State University grad student Jelani Day

The agency is offering up to $10,000 for information about his death. Day’s case went national following media coverage of Gabby Petito.

The FBI once again called attention to the case of Jelani Day, reminding the public Thursday about a $10,000 reward for information related to the Illinois State University graduate student's death.

Day, 25, was reported missing Aug. 25 after he failed to reply to messages from his family and a professor. His car was found a day later, and his body was discovered Sept. 4 floating in the Illinois River in Peru. The LaSalle County coroner identified the body as Day's weeks later.

His case went national following media coverage of Gabby Petito, 22, the subject of global attention after she was reported missing Sept. 11 and found dead eight days later. Critics noted that missing people of color often don’t get the same kind of media attention.

Authorities said Day was last seen the morning of Aug. 24 at Beyond/Hello, a cannabis dispensary in Bloomington. Security video showed Day wearing a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt, a Detroit Lions baseball hat, light-colored shorts and black shoes at the dispensary. His clothing was found in his car, police said.

The FBI 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 says.

The FBI didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

LaSalle County Coroner Richard Ploch said Day drowned and that there was no evidence of injury, assault, altercation, gunfire, tumors, infection, natural disease, heart problems or "significant drug intoxication."

Ploch said it’s unknown how Day ended up in the river. His family suspects foul play.

“He wasn’t depressed,” his mother, Carmen Bolden Day, has said. “He didn’t have any kind of pressures that would make him want to escape from life. So I do feel as if there was someone involved.”

Bolden Day and her attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.