Jelani Day

Jelani Day's Mother Calls FBI Reward, Social Media Campaign ‘a Publicity Stunt'

"I need to find out what happened with my son," Jelani Day's mother, Carmen Bolden Day told NBC Chicago.

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The mother of Jelani Day, the Illinois State University graduate student who went missing and was later found dead in the Illinois River, said the FBI's new reward for information "is a publicity stunt."

"I don’t need a publicity stunt," Carmen Bolden Day told NBC Chicago's Chris Coffey. "I need to find out what happened with my son. They want to act like they’re doing something. I want them do to something."

The FBI on Monday announced a reward of up to $10,000 "for substantial information" connected to Day's disappearance and death, including new witnesses and evidence, as well as a national social media campaign to identify new leads.

Bolden Day said this should have been done in August when she reported her son missing.

"This is Dec. 13 and we’re just now coming out with ideas of a social media campaign," she said.

The Jelani Day Joint Task Force on Monday asked for full cooperation from both the public and Day's "close contacts" and announced "enhanced measures aimed at identifying new leads" related to the investigation.

"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 FBI wrote.

Earlier this month, Bolden Day said her son’s case has not been prioritized and asked the FBI to take over the investigation.

"I’m asking you. I’m imploring you. I’m begging you. I need to know what happened to my son," she said at the time. "I need the FBI to come in and take over. … They need to make Jelani a priority."

Bolden Day was supported in the request for federal assistance, NBC News reported, by prominent activists including Rev. Jesse Jackson and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump.

Day disappeared on Aug. 24 and was reported missing soon after by his family and a professor after he did not show up for class for several days. Day's mother said it was not like him to disappear without telling someone about his whereabouts.

Day's car was found days later in a wooded area near where his body was ultimately discovered in the Illinois River near Peru, a far southwest Chicago suburb miles from where Day was last seen. It wasn't until late-September that a positive identification was made.

Day's cause of death was ruled a drowning by LaSalle County Coroner Richard Ploch in October, adding the manner in which "Mr. Day went into the Illinois River is currently unknown."

Authorities noted "unusual" circumstances surrounding Day's disappearance and the discovery of his body. While the cause of death was released, the manner of death remained unknown.

The FBI said Monday the taskforce is "engaging in a coordinated, nationwide, multi-platform social media campaign to identify new leads."

The reward aims to gain information about Day’s final hours and lead to the identification of new witnesses or evidence in the case.

The public can submit tips by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI. Callers can remain anonymous.

Members of the taskforce include the 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.

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