The family of Jelani Day and their legal representation is calling for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct a hate crime investigation into his mysterious disappearance and death.

On Friday (Dec. 3), Carmen Bolden Day, the mother of the late Illinois State University graduate student, was joined by Rev. Al Sharpton and her attorney Benjamin Crump during a news conference in Chicago. She said that she believes her son was murdered, although his death was ruled a drowning.

Carmen also condemned the police in Peru, Illinois, saying they didn’t do a sufficient job in helping to find her Black son. The grieving mother compared the lack of support in her son’s case to the extensive search to find Gabby Petito, a young white woman who went missing in September while on a cross-country road trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie.

Jelani was important. Jelani is missed. I wake up every day. I’ve been dealing with the fact that I can’t talk to my son,” Carmen said.

As REVOLT previously reported, Day went missing in August. He was last seen on surveillance camera entering a store called Beyond/Hello in Bloomington that morning. He was wearing a black graphic T-shirt, a blue Detroit Lions baseball hat, white shorts and black shoes.

The following day, his family reported him missing. On Aug. 26, his abandoned white 2010 Chrysler 300 was found in a wooded area near the Illinois Valley YMCA. While inspecting the vehicle, police officers say they found the clothing the graduate student was wearing on the day he went missing.

On Sept. 4, Day’s body was discovered in the Illinois River, however, it wasn’t positively identified as the graduate student until weeks later. In October, the LaSalle County Coroner’s Office announced that Day died from drowning, but, coroner Richard Ploch said, “The manner in which Mr. Day went into the Illinois River is currently unknown.”

“Unfortunately, there is no specific positive test at autopsy for drowning,” the statement added. “Drowning is considered a diagnosis of exclusion with supporting investigation circumstances when a person is found deceased in a body of water.