Kenneka Jenkins Was Found In A Hotel Freezer, And Some People Doubt It Was An Accident
On September 10, 2017, authorities found the body of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins inside a hotel freezer. Jenkins had been attending a party with some friends at the Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel in the Rosemont neighborhood of Chicago when she wandered off in the early hours of September 10. It would take nearly 24 hours for investigators to discover her body.
The story of Jenkins's death soon went viral on social media, leading to speculation about the circumstances surrounding her death and the possibility of foul play. Video footage showed a seemingly intoxicated Jenkins wandering through the hotel, though her friends claimed she had only one glass of cognac that night. The unsettling security footage and instant media attention also drew comparisons to the 2013 death of Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel.
Although authorities officially ruled Kenneka Jenkins's death an accident, friends and family still question what happened to her years later.
Kenneka Jenkins Was Attending A Party At A Hotel When Her Friends Lost Track Of HerPhoto: Kenneka Jenkins / Facebook / Fair Use
Kenneka Jenkins left her Chicago-area home around 11:30 pm on September 9, telling her mother she was going to see a movie with friends. However, Jenkins and said friends instead drove to the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, where they attended a party at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O-Hare hotel.
Security footage showed Jenkins and her friends entering the hotel around 1:13 am on September 10. The party in room 926 reportedly consisted of about 30 people and prompted at least one noise complaint from other hotel guests.
At some point in the evening, Jenkins became separated from her friends after she went looking for her keys and cell phone. Her friends called Jenkins's mother soon after to report her missing.
Jenkins Appeared To Be Intoxicated In Hotel Security FootageVideo: YouTube
Approximately two hours after she arrived at the Crowne Plaza, Jenkins was seen on security footage at 3:24 am on September 10th. In the video, Jenkins is seen stumbling out of an elevator, then bumping into walls as she walks down a hallway.
At 3:30 am, Jenkins makes her way down another hallway before running into a railing. Just two minutes later, Jenkins is finally seen from two different camera angles entering an unused kitchen in the hotel before walking out of frame. She is never seen on camera again.
Jenkins Did Not Appear To Be Impaired In Any Of The Social Media Videos Taken The Night She Disappeared
In a video taken at the party and uploaded online, Jenkins is seen walking around and talking to people in a crowded room with loud music playing. Several other videos later appeared on social media, including one in which people believed they heard Jenkins saying "help me," though the phrase was likely part of the Cheif Keef song playing in the background.
According to witness accounts, Jenkins had just one drink before leaving the hotel room. However, one friend did think that she seemed unsteady when he last saw her.
Jenkins's Mother, Teresa Martin, Asked The Hotel For Help, But They Reportedly Referred Her To The Police
At 4 am, roughly half an hour after video footage showed Jenkins in the hotel kitchen, the teen's friends alerted her mother, Teresa Martin, that Jenkins had vanished. At that point, Martin went to the hotel to look for her daughter and report her missing, but hotel officials told her the only recourse was to call the police.
Hotel staff reportedly explained to Martin that hotel employees couldn't help her search until an official missing person report was filed. "We were begging for help, and no one was helping," Martin later said in an interview.
Police Did Not Take A Missing Person Report Until 1 pm
Teresa Martin called police around 7:14 am to report her daughter missing but was told to wait several more hours in case Jenkins was somewhere with friends. When Jenkins hadn't turned up by that afternoon, a missing person report was finally filed at around 1 pm.
In the meantime, Martin and her family began going door to door asking hotel guests if they had seen Jenkins. At this time, the hotel called police to complain about Martin disturbing guests.
Police did an initial search of the hotel the afternoon of the 10th but could not locate Jenkins. They then reviewed surveillance footage showing Jenkins in the hallway and kitchen of the hotel but were still unsuccessful in finding her.
Authorities Didn't Find Jenkins's Body For Nearly 24 Hours
Around 12:30 am on the morning of Sunday, September 11, a hotel employee walked over to the freezer of the unused kitchen where Jenkins was last seen and spotted a body. Police brought in Teresa Martin to identify Jenkins, whose body was lying face down on the floor of the walk-in freezer. The medical examiner reportedly found no injuries or trauma to Jenkins's body aside from a cut on one of her bare feet. Her shoe was found near the body.
Because the kitchen wasn't being used, investigators are reportedly unsure why the walk-in freezer was turned on. It was also noted that the freezer door contained a self-latching mechanism that could be released when pushed. However, it's possible the instructions on how to operate the door were illegible, as there were no lights on inside.