A number of new details are emerging in the case of an Illinois teen found dead in a hotel freezer after dozens of police reports and witness statements were released to the public on Friday.
19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was found dead on Sept. 10 in a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois. She was missing for 24 hours after going to a party at the hotel with her friends.
A hotel worker’s testimony added details to the scene where Jenkins was discovered. The teen was lying face down, the worker said. She had one shoe off, but there were no signs of trauma with the exception of a small cut on her foot, CBS Chicago reported.
Details are also emerging about why it took so long to find Jenkins. Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel says that staff first checked the entry and exit surveillance before moving on to footage from the hallways.
The new documents also show how police used information gathered on social media to question suspects and pursue leads. Significant controversy built up online in the wake of Jenkins’ death, with people speculating that she was a victim of foul play.
In one witness interview, an officer says “some people are speculating that Kenneka was sold for $200,” following a lead police took from an online post by a woman who said she met Jenkins at the party and claimed that one of the people there could have accepted $200 for her death, Chicago Tribune reported.
The officer added that people who saw the video heard someone saying “help me.” The interviewee, a friend of Jenkins, explained that the teen was concerned the $200 reference was about getting a fine for not having a hotel parking ticket in her car.
Meanwhile, the friend explained that the words “help me” likely came from a rap song playing in the background.
The online controversy also appears to have affected those who were at the party. Several of Jenkins’s friends described receiving death threats from people who thought the teen was a victim of foul play. A person who was with Jenkins at the party ended up relocating from the city to a suburb for safety.
The footage of Jenkins walking through a kitchen was taken by a motion-activated camera that had not recorded anything for more than a week.
The freezer Jenkins was found in was inside a refrigerator. The structure was just out of view of cameras, so no footage exists of the teen walking in.
A detective’s description of the freezer says that the inner door was self-closing. The door was latched shut and could only be opened by pressing a circular handle. The door mechanism functioned properly.
Neither the freezer, nor the kitchen it was located in, were used by the hotel. One employee said that the refrigerator was leased to a company that was opening a restaurant in the hotel. It is unclear why the freezer was running, but not in use.
The newly-released documents also show that Jenkins’s mother declined two offers by the police to examine her daughter’s phone. Tereasa Martin said she inspected her daughter’s phone herself, but added that she will consider a reinspection after learning that a police expert can provide an in-depth check.
An autopsy revealed that Jenkins died of hypothermia, with alcohol intoxication and medication playing a contributing role. The coroner found the teen had a blood alcohol level of 0.112, above the legal limit for drivers.
Police also released some text messages from people present at the party.
When one person texted another to say that Jenkins was missing, the person replied “Find Kenneka” and “I can’t believe ya’ll lost her.”