Rosemont, IL

The Ongoing Case Of The Teen Found In A Freezer

Still Unsolved
Kenneka JenkinsPhoto by(The Crime Wire)

On September 8, 2017, 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare hotel in Rosemont. The teenager was enjoying a party with her friends in room 926. The party was set to start at 11:30 pm that night. When one of Kenneka’s friends got to the party, they found her in an intoxicated state of being. She was reportedly swaying back and forth as she went to give them a hug. According to witnesses at the party, she had been drinking a lot of cognacs. However, her friends say that she was still acting out of the ordinary. She would shift moods between wanting to dance and be part of the group and being sad and wanting to isolate herself. 

At around 4:00 am, Kenneka’s friends called her mother, Teresa Martin. They asked for her help in finding Kenneka after she vanished. She was last seen at the front desk at around 3:20 am (according to the surveillance footage). Teresa began knocking on different doors throughout the hotel until one of the guests called 911. When she told the police (and the hotel staff) what was going on, she was told that she would not have access to the hotel’s security footage until Kenneka was reported missing. 

She was reported missing the following afternoon.

The initial look at the camera footage showed nothing in the early hours. Then, at around 10:00 pm, the police were able to spot Kenneka stumbling throughout the hotel. That was the only thing that they had to work with until a startling discovery was made the following day.

On Sunday, September 10, Kenneka Jenkins was found lying face down in the hotel’s freezer. She had one shoe missing and a small cut on her foot. The freezer was part of an unused kitchen in the hotel. This a crucial detail because — for some strange reason — the freezer was turned on that night. Unconfirmed reports say that was due to the freezer being rented out to a restaurant in the hotel. Further viewing of the surveillance footage shows Kenneka stumbling toward the freezer, however, the door itself was in the camera’s blind spot. 

Kenneka’s death would be ruled an accident by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office in October 2017. The police would later release a statement saying that no foul play was suspected in her death. Kenneka’s family, though, has been suspicious due to the inconsistency in her friend’s stories. They have never been able to give a straight account of how Kenneka broke from the group and wound up in the freezer. 

In 2018, Kenneka’s family filed a $50 million lawsuit against the hotel. Among the details of the lawsuit was the decision to withhold the security footage from Kenneka’s mother on the night of her death. She believes that they may have been able to get to her sooner had the footage given them an idea of where she was. 

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