On Wednesday, December 15, Bishop Tavis Grant, national field director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, announced he would like a meeting with the Chicago FBI to find out why they are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for “substantial” information regarding Jelani Day’s final hours leading to the identification of new witnesses or evidence in this case.
Bishop Grant, along with Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and Jelani Day’s mother, Carmen Bolden Day, has been asking for the FBI to lead this multi-city investigation; however, other cities involved say it is a jurisdictional issue, and the FBI cannot take the lead in this case.
Jelani Day was a 25-year-old graduate medical student at Illinois State University and was reported missing on August 25, 2021, after failing to return messages from a professor and family.
Jelani Day was last seen on the morning of August 24 at a retail establishment near the intersection of Veterans Parkway and General Electric Road in Bloomington, Illinois.
On September 4, 2021, his body was found face down in the Illinois River in Peru, Illinois. He was identified on September 23, 2021, according to FBI Special Agent Siobhan Johnson.
“We would like to meet with the FBI and [have them] give us clarity on what the $10,000 means and what is that process. Do people call in tips? Do they check every lead because people are going to route back to us, and we need to be able to answer those questions,” said Bishop Grant.
On a Facebook page, Mrs. Day wrote, “The FBI is not leading anything involving the death of my son. I have not been contacted by the FBI. That reward is a smokescreen. We already had a reward. There have been no additional resources or information from the agencies listed on that press release,” she said.
On the issue of the FBI posting a re- ward up to $10,000, Mrs. Day said, “that solidifies that they agree that foul play did, in fact, contribute to my son’s demise. This was not a suicide.”
The announcement of the reward was made in conjunction with the Jelani Day Joint Task Force (JDJTF), which was formed to identify new leads related to the Jelani Day investigation.
Johnson said 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.
The JDJTF is asking the public to submit tips—even anonymously—via 1-800-CALL-FBI The JDJTF is an interagency task force of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working closely to coordinate investigative efforts across jurisdictions, according to Johnson.
Current members include Bloomington Police Department, Peru Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation–Chicago Division, LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office, City of LaSalle Police Department, Illinois State Police, and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.