A 19-year-old Chicago woman was found dead early Sunday morning inside the freezer of a Rosemont, Ill., hotel, police say.
Kenneka Jenkins was last seen early Saturday morning while attending a party on the ninth floor of the Crowne Plaza hotel. She was reported missing hours later around 1:15 p.m. Saturday before ultimately being discovered, ABC 7 Chicago reports.
Police told her family that Jenkins was intoxicated and walked into the freezer, but her family does not believe that is the whole story, suspecting foul play, the report notes.
“It’s something that no one could ever imagine. It’s unbelievable,” Jenkins’ mother, Teresa Martin, told the news station. “I believe that someone in this hotel killed my child.”
Jenkins’ sister told police that the 19-year-old left her home in Chicago around 11:30 p.m. Friday to go to the party. At around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, her sister said she got a text message from Jenkins and that was the last time she heard from Jenkins.
Martin told the Chicago Tribune that her daughter’s friends called after 4 a.m. Saturday to say that they had lost track of Jenkins in the hotel and left the scene after they couldn’t find her. (Who are these “friends”?)
To make matters worse, the friends said they were in the car that Martin had loaned her daughter for the night and that they had Jenkins’ cellphone, Martin said.
The same friends said they were getting ready to leave the party when they realized the teen had left her phone and keys back in the room, and so they went to get her stuff while Jenkins remained in the hallway. They said that when they returned, Jenkins was gone.
Martin said when she questioned the friends’ story about what happened, their “stories changed over and over again.”
She ultimately went down to the hotel around 5 a.m. to try to locate her daughter, but hotel staffers said they needed a missing-persons report from police before they could start looking over surveillance footage.
The anxious mother contacted the Rosemont Police Department but was told to wait a few hours before filing a report. Later that morning, Jenkins’ older sister filed the report, prompting a search for the teen.
After about 11 hours, Jenkins’ body was discovered in the freezer, with police saying that she was beyond resuscitation, and they pronounced her dead at the scene, ABC 7 notes.
“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.
Martin is also not ready to believe police accounts of what happened, wondering how her daughter could have gotten the heavy freezer doors open on her own if she was drunk.
“Those were double steel doors; she didn’t just pop them open,” she said.
The Crowne Plaza hotel released a statement about Jenkins’ death, saying in part: “The Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel and Conference Center holds the safety, security and well-being of our guests and employees as our top priority and concern. We are saddened by this news, and our thoughts are with the young woman and her family during this difficult time. The hotel staff will continue to cooperate fully with local authorities. All further questions should be directed to the Rosemont Police Department.”
The family says that the hotel claimed to have video footage of Jenkins walking down a hallway in the hotel before her death, but the video offers very little information as to what may have actually caused the teen’s death. A medical examiner has yet to release any possible information about the cause of death in the case.