A 19-year-old Chicago teen was found dead in a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel – and police are calling it a “tragic accident.”
Nineteen-year-old Kenneka Jenkins left her home for a party Sept. 8, according to the Chicago Tribune. After her mother, Tereasa Martin, demanded hotel staff search for her daughter, Jenkins body was found in the hotel freezer of Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center in Rosemont, Illinois.
Here is everything we know so far about the tragic death of Kenneka Jenkins.
1. Police believe Kenneka walked herself into the freezer where her body was found the morning of Sept. 10.
Kenneka Jenkins was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m. Sunday. Police informed Martin and other family members after 1 a.m. Sunday, that Kenneka’s body was found in a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza, according to the Tribune. Police told Martin that her daughter was inebriated and likely stumbled into the freezer, which was not being used to store food, on her own.
“There is some construction activity where a new restaurant is being built, and (she was found) in that vicinity,” Gary Mack, spokesman for the village of Rosemont, told the Tribune. “This is not an area where anyone would typically be who was a guest in the hotel.”
2. The freezer was equipped with an exit button.
According to an Associated Press report, an exit button inside the freezer was supposed to let people open the door if it shut behind them, but authorities found it sometimes faulty.
3. Her mother had been searching for her daughter since early Saturday morning.
Kenneka Jenkins left her house around 11:30 p.m. Friday for a bowling party, according to what she told her mother. Jenkins friends called Tereasa Martin around 4 a.m. Sept. 9, to report they had not been able locate Jenkins. The friends left with Jenkins phone and in the car Martin lent her daughter for the night.
Martin said she headed to the hotel to search for her daughter at 5 a.m. Saturday, but without a missing persons report, hotel staff refused to search for Jenkins. It wasn’t until around 3 or 4 p.m. police began reviewing video footage that led to discovering Jenkins. Martin and her family visited the hotel three times Saturday to find her.
4. Her friends’ story about her going missing changed “over and over.”
Jenkins’ friends told Martin that, when they were attempting to leave the party, they realized that Jenkins left her car keys in the hotel party room. Jenkins two friends said she waited in the hallway while they went to the room to retrieve her things. Once the friends came back to the hallway, Jenkins had vanished. Martin has publicly challenged the friends’ accounts, noting that their
“stories changed over and over.”
5. Her mother Tereasa Martin is contesting the police report that Kenneka walked herself into the freezer.
Martin has quesioned the validity of the police’s conclusion on her daughter’s death. If her daughter was drunk, she said, she would have had a hard time opening the freezer door on her own.
“Those were double steel doors, she didn’t just pop them open,” Martin said.
Martin was angry about what she said was hotel workers’ lack of urgency in the face of her pleas for help finding her daughter Saturday morning, directing her to the police rather than immediately reviewing hotel footage.
6. Police announced Monday they are investigating the viral Facebook video that allegedly contains footage of Jenkins.
Police are reviewing video on social media that appears to show Jenkins in a room on the ninth-floor of the Crowne Plaza before she disappeared over the weekend, according to the Tribune.
The video — which has been viewed more than 3 million views — features a woman periodically talking on the phone and smoking in mirrored sunglasses talking to the camera. Viewers of the Facebook Live believe that, at about the 3-minute mark, a scream can be heard. It also appears Jenkins is reflected in the woman’s glasses on the other side of the hotel room.
“They’ve looked at it and continue to look at it and all the other social media videos and posts,” Mack told the Tribune on Monday. “They are leaving no stone unturned as far as trying to corral everyone they can and talk to them and interview them about what happened and what was going on that night.”
7. A cause of death hasn’t been determined.
Cook County Medical examiner’s office performed an autopsy Sunday, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether foul play was suspected, according to Becky Schlikerman, spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office.
Martin is convinced that the delay in investigating her daughter’s death could have made a difference.
“If they had taken me seriously and checked right away, they could have found my daughter much sooner and she migh