Updated Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, 4 p.m. EDT: The family of Kenneka Jenkins have released a new statement, saying that they have not received video footage of their loved one walking into a hotel freezer.
According to a family statement, tweeted out by CBS Chicago reporter Audrina Bigos, the family have “only been provided snippets of video, none of which shows Kenneka Jenkins walking into a freezer.”
“Serious questions remain as to how she ended up in a Crowne Plaza Hotel freezer and why it took a day and a half for the hotel to find Kenneka,” the statement added.
Video footage that apparently shows Kenneka Jenkins’ last moments has sparked a dispute between the teen’s family, who are still looking for justice, and a community activist, who participated in a press conference and claimed that no foul play was involved in Jenkins’ death.
The community activist, Andrew Holmes, told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday that he viewed surveillance footage from the hotel Wednesday when he showed up to the Rosemont (Ill.) Police Department looking for answers on behalf of the family.
The footage, he said, shows Jenkins, 19, waiting in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Hotel after her friends had apparently gone back to a hotel room where a party was being held to collect her phone and car keys. Jenkins, Holmes said, then wanders off and takes the elevator to a lower level of the hotel, walking around and opening doors, appearing to be disoriented. Ultimately, Jenkins walks into a kitchen area before entering the walk-in freezer, he said, only to never come back out.
“The important part is we all wanted to know: Did anybody call her down there?” Holmes said. “Did anybody force her down there? Was there anybody on the other side of the room when she got down there? And the answer to that is no.”
His account directly refuted online speculation that there was foul play involved in the teen’s death. Holmes insisted that those theories are “just something they made up on social media.”
However, Jenkins’ family is pushing back, saying later Thursday that they were misrepresented by activists who had called for the news conference.
In a Facebook Live video, Jenkins’ mother, Teresa Martin, said that Holmes had called her and encouraged her to get protesters to stop protesting in front of the hotel because it was losing money.
Later, appearing at a protest in front of the same hotel, Martin answered, “Yes,” when asked by a woman if the information given by Holmes was not true.
“He came out of the blue and acting ... like he was a friend,” Martin said about one of the activists, although the Tribune didn’t specify whether she was referring to Holmes. “But he calls me this morning and says, ‘Oh, the hotel is not making any money. I think you need to go online and stop the protest.’”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Crowne Plaza told the Tribune that the hotel has offered to pay for the teen’s funeral.
“Our hearts go out to Kenneka’s mother, her family and friends,” the spokesperson said. “We hope covering the funeral costs provides a small bit of relief for them.”
According to Newsweek, Rosemont police reported Wednesday that they had interviewed some 12 people who were involved in the incident, including eight individuals who were with Jenkins before her disappearance.
An autopsy conducted Sunday did not determine a cause of death, and police are still waiting on a toxicology report and conducting further investigations to determine how the 19-year-old died.