After lawyer calls for FBI involvement in Jelani Day case, La Salle County authorities say more info coming

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump calls for FBI intervention

Jelani J. Day, 25, of Bloomington, was a graduate student at Illinois State University.

In response to civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump demanding the FBI take over the investigation into the death of Jelani Day, Peru Police Chief Robert Pyszka said Friday he anticipates being able to release more information on the investigation into the death of Jelani Day in the coming days.

Pyszka said out of respect for Day and his family the Peru Police Department would not make additional statements as of Friday, but the department will release information as it becomes available.

At a news conference Friday in Chicago, Crump demanded the investigation into Day’s death be taken over by the FBI.

“As we approach 100 days without any answers, we are demanding that the FBI investigate this matter as a hate crime,” Crump said, according to NPR. “The family is losing confidence in the local authorities. They want answers.”

Crump also was joined by his co-counsel, B’Ivory LaMarr; Day’s mother, Carmen Bolden Day; and civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Crump supports having the FBI take full control of the investigation into what happened to the 25-year-old, whose body was found Sept. 4 in the Illinois River in Peru.

Pyszka previously said the FBI has been contacted numerous times throughout the investigation. The FBI told a local multijurisdictional unit the federal agency will assist in all matters but will not take over the lead of the case.

State Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, the House Black Caucus chair; and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Chicago, have called for either state or national agencies to get more involved. In Buckner’s case, he formally asked the Illinois State Police Division of Criminal Investigation take the lead in the investigation. Rush wrote a letter urging U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to launch an investigation.

Pyszka issued Friday’s statement in response to the news conference.

Pyszka said the multijurisdictional team is continuing to examine the circumstances surrounding Day’s death from every investigative angle.

La Salle County Sheriff Adam Diss issued a similar statement Friday.

“We continue to examine the circumstances surrounding Jelani Day’s death from every investigative angle and are working hand-in-hand with our federal and local law enforcement partners to ensure that every lead is followed,” Diss said in a news release. “Out of respect for Mr. Day and his family and a desire to protect the integrity of the investigation, we will not be making additional statements at this time. We do, however, anticipate releasing additional information as available in the coming days.”

The Multi-Jurisdictional Investigative Unit consists of members from the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office; Peru, La Salle and Bloomington police departments, Illinois State Police, La Salle County Coroner’s Office, and the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.

Day, who was reported missing Aug. 25, was identified through forensic dental identification and DNA testing and comparison. Day’s vehicle was found Aug. 26 concealed in a wooded area near the Illinois Valley YMCA in Peru. The La Salle County Coroner’s Office said Day’s cause of death was drowning with no signs of struggle, but Peru police have confirmed the investigation continues into how he may have drowned.

Day’s cellphone was found and was sent for forensic analysis, authorities confirmed Nov. 12.