Family of Chicago Teen Kenneka Jenkins Suspect Foul Play In Young Woman’s Death

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Kenneka Jenkins
Kenneka Jenkins disappeared around 1 a.m. Saturday while attending a hotel party, her friends said. (Image courtesy of the Chicago Tribune)

The family of a Chicago teen, Kenneka Jenkins is demanding answers after the young woman’s body was discovered inside a hotel freezer over the weekend.

Chicago authorities have begun reviewing surveillance footage and questioning witnesses but have uncovered little evidence as to how 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins died and ended up in a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center.

Jenkins’ body was discovered Sunday, Sept. 10, nearly 24 hours after her family repeatedly contacted police, the Chicago Tribune reported. Teresa Martin, the teen’s mother, said she last laid eyes on her daughter around 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, when she left home to go to a party. Jenkins’ sister last spoke to her around 1 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, close to the time friends at the party said she went missing.

After an hours-long search the following day, Jenkins was found and pronounced dead on the scene at 12:48 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Officers told Jenkins’ mother that she apparently let herself in the freezer and died inside. The cause and manner of death remain undetermined.

“[I’m) horrified,” Martin told reporters Monday, adding that she was having a hard time understanding exactly what happened to her daughter. “It’s something that no one could ever imagine.

“It’s unbelievable.”

The police investigation has since turned to a viral Facebook video that appears to show Jenkins in a ninth-floor room at the hotel over the weekend, Rosemont spokesman Gary Mack said. The clip, which has received over 3 million views, features a young woman in mirrored sunglasses speaking into the camera. The other side of the hotel room is reflected in her shades, showing Jenkins sitting on a bed.

“Yes, [authorities] have looked at it and continue to look at it and all the other social media videos and posts,” Mack told the Chicago Tribune. “They are leaving no stone unturned as far as trying to corral everyone they can and talk to them and interview them about what happened and what was going on that night.”

Jenkins’ mother said she received a call from her daughter’s friends after 4 a.m. Saturday saying they’d lost track of her at the party and left after they couldn’t find her. The friends said they realized Jenkins left her keys and wallet in the room after they had gotten up to leave but went back in to retrieve them while Jenkins waited in the hall. When they came back out, she was gone, Martin said the friends told her.

The distraught mother said she had a hard time believing the friends’ account, however, as their stories kept changing. After the party, the friends drove to her home in the car she had lent her daughter for the night, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Jenkins’ family also disputed the police’s account that Jenkins had opened the freezer, which was located in a vacant area of the hotel, on her own and was accidentally trapped inside.

“The freezer door is heavy. I worked in a cafeteria before,” Jenkins’ sister, Leonore Harris, told CBS News. “It’s no way if she’s drunk, and they’re saying she’s stumbling, so she don’t have no strength.”

“That’s my baby sister,” Harris continued. “How can I live life knowing I’ll never see her again?”

News of Jenkins’ death and that ominous Facebook video have gone viral on social media, spawning suspicions of foul play. The teen’s mother even said she believes her daughter’s death was an “inside job.”

Social media users have chimed in with their own ideas of what happened to the young woman, alleging everything from a set-up to rape and even murder. The hashtag #Justice4Kenneka has gained traction on both Twitter and Facebook.

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