On September 10, 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was found dead inside a walk-in freezer in a hotel room. Newly released surveillance video shows Jenkins stumbling around the hallways and kitchen of the hotel, seemingly disoriented.
Jenkins was found at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Rosemont, Illinois. Police used a Facebook Live video to search for clues as to her whereabouts. In that video, there is a woman in the background who resembles Jenkins. She is sitting on a bed as another woman in the forefront is smoking and talking to the camera. A person who may have been Jenkins is visible in the reflection on the other woman’s sunglasses.
Jenkins was at the hotel for a party with friends on the ninth floor, on the night of Friday, September 8th. She was officially reported missing on Saturday at 1 p.m., then found dead in the freezer early Sunday morning at 1 a.m.
In the newly released video, Jenkins can be seen leaving an elevator, alone, at 3:20 early Saturday morning. She appears to be struggling to keep her balance as she navigates the hallways of the Crowne Plaza.
Though the footage doesn’t show Jenkins entering the industrial, walk-in freezer. No one else enters the area until she is found dead the next day.
As the investigation into her death continues, friends and family are demanding answers. They question the Crowne Plaza’s response, as well as that of the police department.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Jenkins’ family’s lawyer, Larry Rogers, said they will be seeking their own investigation and perhaps request a second autopsy. They’ve raised concerns about the hotel’s response and say the freezer was not searched when authorities were looking for the missing teen.
“They never searched, they never did anything while a young, 19-year-old disoriented girl was sitting in their freezer,” Rogers reportedly said. “Now, there has to be an answer to how that happened. Better yet, there has to be an answer to why that happened.”
Jenkins’ mother, Tereasa Martin, said, “To me, I feel like they helped kill my child: the police department and this hotel.”
The hotel began searching for the teen after she was reported missing. Her parents went to the hotel at 6 p.m., the staff called police, and a second search was mounted.
According to a 911 recording made after Jenkins vanished, but before she was found, Martin tells a dispatcher that conversations with Jenkins’ friends have indicated her daughter may have been drinking. “One cup is too much for her,” Martin says, then asks if detectives can get the hotel surveillance video.
The dispatcher assures her that Jenkins will probably turn up.
After the girl’s body was discovered, the family sought the help of Andrew Holmes, who has worked in the community for decades fighting against violence. He said that police allowed him to view surveillance video.
By his description, according to the Tribune, one video shows Jenkins waiting in the lobby of the hotel, after her friends went up to the room. He said the video shows Jenkins take an elevator to a lower level, before she wanders around, appearing to be disoriented.
Holmes recalled how Jenkins opened two doors in a kitchen area, then walked inside of the freezer before the doors shut behind her.
“It was just an accident waiting to happen,” Holmes told the news outlet.
After days of speculation that there had been foul-play, or that she was coerced into the freezer, the surveillance video seems to dispel the notion.
Rosemont Police will be piecing together the details from that night using Facebook videos and surveillance footage from 47 cameras inside the hotel. According to the department, there will be 36 more hours of footage from that weekend released.
Police said they will show the full video to Jenkins’ mother before they release it to the public, at the end of the investigation. A hotel spokesman reports that they also extended an offer to the family to allow them to privately view 36 total hours of surveillance footage from the hotel cameras.
The Crowne Plaza Hotel has reportedly offered to cover the cost of Jenkins’ funeral expenses.
“Our hearts go out to Kenneka’s mother, her family and friends. We hope covering the funeral costs provides a small bit of relief for them,” hotel spokesman Glenn Harston said in a statement.
There has been no confirmation that the young woman’s family accepted either offer.
Jenkins’ cause of death has not been released, and no arrests have been made.
The Daily Mail compiled a timeline of events:
Friday 11.30 p.m.: Kenneka goes to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont with her friends
Saturday 1.30 a.m.: She sends her final text message
Saturday 1.36 a.m.: Kenneka’s friends appear in Facebook live video
Saturday 4.30 a.m.: Her friends call her family to report her missing
Saturday 1.18 p.m.: Kenneka is reported missing
Saturday 1.56 p.m.: Kenneka’s “best friend” posts video which shows her at the hotel
Sunday 1 a.m.: Kenneka’s body is found inside hotel freezer
Sunday 2 a.m.: The same friend posts another video showing Kenneka in hotel elevator
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