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Kenneka Jenkins: What We Know So Far About Rosemont Freezer Death

By Kelly Bauer | September 19, 2017 6:01am
 Kenneka Jenkins, 19, was found dead in a Rosemont hotel's walk-in freezer, officials said.
Kenneka Jenkins, 19, was found dead in a Rosemont hotel's walk-in freezer, officials said.
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CHICAGO — The death of Kenneka Jenkins in a Rosemont hotel's freezer has led to national speculation and controversy.

Jenkins, a Chicago native, was found dead Sept. 10 — nearly a day after she'd gone missing at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The 19-year-old's death has gained massive attention fueled by rampant online speculation about how she died.

There have been several protests and rallies outside the hotel where Jenkins was found dead. During a recent protest, supporters held a memorial for Jenkins and then asked the FBI to take over the death investigation — a step the Rosemont Police Department said was unnecessary Monday.

Jenkins' family is pushing the police department to give them the interviews and reports generated by the investigation, said Larry Rogers Jr., an attorney for the family. The family also wants photos and videos taken by the department's officers at the hotel during the investigation.

"They are still maintaining a number of questions about what really happened to Kenneka," Rogers said.

Who Was Kenneka?

Kenneka Jenkins was a 19-year-old woman from the Near West Side. Jenkins went missing early Sept. 9 and was found dead the next day in the hotel.

Jenkins' family members are struggling with their loss, but are pushing for more transparency from Rosemont police, said Rogers, the family's attorney.

"They're mourning and grieving ... and trying to pull together arrangements to bury their daughter and sibling," Rogers said.

Rogers said he did not know of an official fundraiser to help Jenkins' family, though apparently unauthorized ones have appeared on — and been removed from — sites like GoFundMe and YouCaring.

What happened that night?

On Sept. 8, Jenkins left her home to go to a "hotel party" at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont. Police have said there were dozens of people at the party, and investigators are still trying to find all of the people who were present, according to CBS2.

A Facebook Live video supposedly recorded at the party — which some have suggested shows Jenkins — was watched millions of times before being taken down. Police have said they are reviewing the video, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Several hours later, about 4 a.m. Sept. 9, Jenkins' mother, Tereasa Martin, was informed Jenkins was missing through a phone call, Martin told the Chicago Tribune.

Martin called 911 and told a dispatcher Jenkins' friends said the young woman had gone missing when they left her in the hotel plaza to go back up to their room for a cellphone; when they returned, Jenkins was gone.

Martin asked police to look for her daughter in hotel surveillance video footage, and the dispatcher suggested Martin "go home, relax a little bit, give it some time" because Martin was an adult who had only been missing for several hours, according to the Tribune.

"All we know she very well still could be in the room," the dispatcher told Martin, according to the Tribune. "She could just be passed out. You know how it is."

Several hours later, Jenkins' family filed a missing persons report and police informed the Crowne Plaza Hotel, police told the Tribune. Hotel employees searched for Jenkins but did not find her.

Later that day, Jenkins' family went to the hotel to look for her, according to the Tribune. Police looked at the hotel's surveillance footage and saw Jenkins in the videos.

That's when there was another search for Jenkins and, early Sept. 10, her body was found in a walk-in freezer in the hotel.

Police told Martin that Jenkins walked into the freezer while inebriated and died, Martin told the Tribune.

A spokesman for the hotel said Jenkins' death was a "tragic accident," and, while there are latches on the inside and outside of the freezer door, the door was not locked.

Videos

On Sept. 15, amid mounting pressure from Jenkins' family and members of the public, Rosemont police released video clips showing Jenkins at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The videos show Jenkins and three other women walking through the hotel early Sept. 9. A little more than two hours later, Jenkins can be seen walking out of an elevator.

Jenkins walks through a hallway for several minutes. She appears to have trouble with her balance and stumbles, leaning against walls several times. She walks into walls and into a staircase.

Jenkins walks through a kitchen at the hotel at 3:32 a.m. She is not seen entering the freezer where her body was later found.

Autopsy

Jenkins was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m. Sept. 10. The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy that day, but the results have not yet been released.

The cause and manner of Jenkins' death are pending further studies, according to the Medical Examiner's Office.

It could be several weeks before results are released, which is not unusual.