It started when Kenneka Jenkins went to a party with her friends after getting a new job. The 19-year-old and her friends were celebrating at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, on September 8.
But by Saturday morning, Jenkins was nowhere to be found.
Jenkins’s body was discovered inside a walk-in freezer on Sunday, September 10. At the time, her mother, Teresa Martin, questioned why and how her body could have ended up in the freezer.Screenshot/WGN
Martin said police told her the 19-year-old girl was drunk and walked into the freezer before she died, but Martin didn’t buy that theory.
Martin’s older daughter, Leonore Harris, backed her. The pair pointed to safety features inside of the freezer that Jenkins could have used to get out. They also argued that the weight of the door was too heavy for Jenkins to open if she was drunk.
The mother also became suspicious of her daughter’s friends because “their stories changed over and over.”
Martin hypothesized: “I believe someone in this hotel killed my child.”
According to WGN, the freezer in which Jenkins was found is old and no longer in use. It was reportedly not equipped with a lock and did have a mechanism to open the door from the inside.
As the investigation into the teen’s death continued, according to WGN, Chicago activist Andrew Holmes claimed he was shown the hotel surveillance video. He said the video showed Jenkins stumbling around alone in the basement before opening the walk-in freezer door and entering on her own.Screenshot/WHOTV
Holmes believes the teen was attempting to find a door to get back up to the lobby.
But Holmes’s statements contradict what the family has seen.
Crowne Plaza Hotel representatives have reportedly released video from 40 different cameras to police, including 36 hours of surveillance. In turn, police say they have provided copies to the teen’s family.Screenshot/WHOTV
Rosemont Police explained in a statement:
They will now be able to view this footage at their convenience yet still have the opportunity to come to the police station at any time to discuss or review the footage with investigators.
However, WHOTV reports that an attorney for the family released a statement claiming they were not given any video from police showing the teen walking into the hotel freezer (emphasis added):
Despite request for all evidence, we have only been provided snippets of video, none of which shows Kenneka Jenkins walking into a freezer. Serious questions remain as to how she ended up in a Crowne Plaza Hotel freezer and why it took a day and a half for the hotel to find Kenneka.
The family is wondering why it took them so long to release the video.
As police continue to investigate Jenkins’s death, they say they have no reason to suspect foul play. They have interviewed a dozen people, who were either at the hotel at the time of her disappearance or have another type of involvement in the case.Screenshot/WGN
The Crowne Plaza at Rosemont has stepped in to help by offering to pay for her funeral:
The entire Crowne Plaza at Rosemont family grieves the death of Kenneka Jenkins. It is the tragic loss of a promising young person. We offer her family our deepest sympathies. … Our hearts go out to the Kenneka’s mother, her family and friends. We hope covering the funeral costs provides a small bit of relief for them.
The Medical Examiner’s Office announced her autopsy results were inconclusive, leaving her cause of her death unknown.