19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was found dead inside a hotel freezer after a party at a Chicago party
A Chicago teen was found dead inside a hotel walk-in freezer after an hours-long search, police said. Kenneka Jenkins, 19, was discovered early Sunday morning inside an industrial freezer at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont where she had been attending a party with friends, WLS reports.”
Jenkins was last seen in the early hours of Saturday morning and reported missing at about 1:15 p.m. She was attending a party Friday night on the ninth floor of the hotel.
Her family said that police told them that Jenkins was intoxicated when she walked into the freezer and died. However, Kenneka’s mother, Teresa Martin, something else happened to her daughter.
She blamed the hotel and the police department for their delayed response in searching for her daughter.
Responding to the outburst of the grieving mother, Gary Mack, a spokesman for the village of Rosemont said: “Anyone can understand how a parent can feel distraught over the loss of a child and feel the need to lash out due to the tremendous pain they’re feeling, and we certainly understand that,” Mack said during an interview with the Chicago Tribune.
“But people can rest assured Rosemont is one of the top, highest trained, most respected police departments in the state of Illinois and does a good job at what they do.”
Horrified: Theresa Martin, the dead teen’s mother believes delays by police and the hotel staff delay in searching for her daughter contributed to the death
Addressing the media, Martin said she went to Crowne Plaza around 5 a.m. on Saturday to look for her daughter; about an hour after the her friends called and said they couldn’t find her.
She said hotel staff allegedly refused to view security footage or conduct a search for Kenneka until a missing person’s report was filed.
Martin said when she contacted the Rosemont Police Department she was told to wait a few hours before filing the report to see if the teen showed up. Later Saturday morning, a missing person’s report was filed and a search for the teen was launched that afternoon. Ultimately, the revealing security footage was viewed, albeit too late to save the teen, 15 hours later.
Martin is distraught Rosemont police failed to heed the family’s frantic attempts to figure out what happened to Jenkins.
“If they had taken me seriously and checked right away, they could have found my daughter much sooner and she might have been alive,” Martin said.
Kenneka Jenkins was discovered inside a freezer at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sunday morning
Martin said she is skeptical of the account of event’s from her daughter’s friends. Their “stories changed over and over,” she said. She also had a hard time believing the police account that Kenneka got into the freezer on her own, saying if her daughter was drunk she would have had difficulty opening the heavy freezer doors. ‘She [Jenkins] would have realized the freezer doors weren’t the doors to an elevator or a hotel entrance,’ Martin said. “Those were double steel doors, she didn’t just pop them open,” she said.
Gary Mack told the Chicago Tribune that during the 11-hour search police “[were] actively canvassing” the area and viewed security footage but found no signs of the teen.
It wasn’t until 10 p.m. on Saturday when an officer looked at the security footage a second time and saw Kenneka “staggering” drunk near the front desk. She was pronounced dead at the scene after her body was found in the walk-in freezer.
Police are still investigating the case and the cause and manner of Kenneka’s death. An autopsy performed Sunday but it wasn’t immediately clear whether foul play was suspected. According to the medical examiner’s office, the cause and manner of the teen’s death remained undetermined.