Police Close Case on Death of Teen Found in Freezer, Family Disagrees
Police closed the investigation into the death of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, whose body was found in a hotel walk-in freezer, but her family says that some evidence points to potential foul play.
Police in Rosemont, a suburb of Chicago, released troves of documents from their investigation this week, shedding light on what happened after Jenkins went to a party at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center at 1:13 a.m on Sept. 9.
The surveillance videos, police audio files, and volumes of police reports add up to a detailed timeline of events leading up to Jenkins’s death, but her family still believes that the teen’s death was not an accident, CBS reported.
The family’s attorneys said that photos of Jenkins when she was found in the freezer are too graphic to release and raise further questions about the circumstances of her death.
“Frankly, [the] photos depicting how [Jenkins] was found raise more questions about what happened to [her] than they answer,” attorney Larry Rogers Jr. said in a statement. “The pictures are graphic and disturbing images and inexplicably show portions of [her] body exposed.”
Controversy about the teen’s death swirled online after a video from the party was posted online. Many of those who watched the video suspected foul play, but police said they did not discover any evidence of such even after they followed leads posted by people on social media.
The Rosemont police said that they interviewed 44 people during the investigation, 30 of whom attended the party at the hotel. Those interviews, combined with surveillance video and police audio enabled Chicago Tribune staff to construct a detailed timeline of the evens from Sept. 8 to Sept. 10.
• Sept. 8, 11:30 p.m.: Jenkins and her friends leave her home. They plan to see a movie, but then decide to go to a friend’s birthday party at a hotel. They stop to pick up a Bluetooth speaker, alcohol, energy drinks, and marijuana.
Sept. 9, 1:13 a.m.: Jenkins is seen entering the hotel with three other females.
• Sept. 9, approximately 1:30 a.m.: Jenkins sends a text message to her sister. This is the last text she sent.
• Sept. 9, 1:36 a.m.: The Facebook live video, which later stirred controversy appears online. Some said Jenkins can be seen in the reflection of the sunglasses of the female in the video.
• Sept. 9, 2:17 a.m.: Jenkins posts a Snapchat of herself that looks like it was taken in a bathroom. According to witness interviews, she spent her time dancing, drinking, and talking to friends.
• Sept. 9, around 3 a.m.: Jenkins and her friends prepare to leave the party. As they wait for an elevator Jenkins realizes she is missing her phone and some other belongings. He friends go back to look for her things. When they return, she is gone.
• Sept. 9, 3:25 to 3:32 a.m.: Hotel surveillance videos show Jenkins tottering through hallways and bumping into walls. She eventually walks through an unused kitchen and out of view. That moment was the last she was seen alive.
• Sept. 9, about 4 a.m.: The teen’s friends call her mother and ask if she has arrived home. They then say they cannot find her.
• Sept. 9, about 5 a.m.: The friends come to the home of Jenkins’s mother with her car. The friends say they left the hotel after searching for her.
• Sept. 9, about 7:15 a.m.: Jenkins’s mother and family call the police after they spend about an hour at the hotel inquiring about the missing teen. The dispatcher suggests waiting for a few hours to see if the teen arrives home.
• Sept. 9, 1:16 p.m.: Police file Jenkins into the missing persons database and begin searching the hotel.
• Sept. 9, 8:29 p.m.: Police are sent to the hotel on reports that Jenkins’s mother is knocking on room doors looking for her daughter. The officers view surveillance footage of Jenkins entering the hotel and check the room where the party took place, but find nothing suspicious. They leave the hotel and ask the family to call if any new information surfaces.
• Sept. 10, 12:23 a.m.: Surveillance video shows a hotel worker walking through a kitchen and out of sight toward the walk-in in cooler and freezer. The video then shows the worker summoning a police officer. A paramedic says the teen’s heart is not beating and that her body is frozen.
• Sept. 10, 12:48 a.m.: The teen is pronounced dead.
• Sept. 10, about 1:15 a.m.: Police inform Jenkins’s mother that her daughter is dead. There are 20 family members at the hotel at this time.
• Sept. 10, 4:52 a.m.: Jenkins’s body is wheeled into the kitchen where a worker places a blanket over her.
• Sept. 10, 5:07 a.m.: The teen’s mother and sister are brought to the kitchen to identify the body. They then walk out of view and the video shows the freezer where Jenkins was found.