What Happened To Kenneka Jenkins?

Rewind: A look back at stories that the public may have forgotten about

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Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in a Chicago hotel freezer more than a month ago and as of today (October 25) there is still so much mystery, controversy and anger surrounding this young girl’s death. The 19 year old was found dead inside of a walk-in freezer more than 24 hours after she was reported missing.

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There has only been more controversies surrounding this case since the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare hotel refused to look through surveillance footage when Tereasa Martin, Kenneka’s mother, told hotel staff that her daughter was last seen on the ninth floor of their hotel. And then things were further complicated when social media footage showed Kenneka on a live stream with some of her friends and theories began circulating of a potential set up. Detectives then later determined that the hotel room was rented by a man and a woman with a fraudulent credit card.

The Rosemont detectives have stated that those individuals are affiliated with a gang and that the party on the ninth floor had multiple gang members present. There were allegedly more than 30 people present at the hotel.

Recently, surveillance footage from the Chicago hotel shows Kenneka stumbling along the hallways and in the kitchen but there is no footage of the exact moment that Kenneka walks into the industrial-size freezer. Furthermore, the motion activated camera in the kitchen does not show her walking into the freezer.

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An autopsy revealed that Kenneka had a blood alcohol limit of 112 mg/dL (0.08 mg/dL is the legal limit) which is about 50 per cent higher than the legal limit. A drug known as Topiramate was also found in her system. It was reported that the dosage was in the ‘therapeutic’ range. Her family says that she was not prescribed to this drug.

The autopsy stated that the death was an accident and that Jenkins died of hypothermia. The autopsy speculates that the alcohol as well as the drugs in her system only sped up the onset of hypothermia.

The medical examiner’s note revealed that the walk in freezer was capable of reaching temperatures as low as 8 degrees Celsius. On police dispatch tapes, an officer could be heard saying that Jenkins’ body was ‘frozen solid.’

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The autopsy report stated that Kenneka suffered a type of lesion, mucosal erosions, that is indicative of hypothermia. Furthermore, there was an abrasion on her right ankle and her brain was also swollen, which the autopsy states does not reveal a specific cause of death.

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The Rosemont Police Department formally closed the case saying that there is no indication of foul play and has recently released crime scene photos showing how Kenneka was found.

According to NBC New York, the photographs show Kenneka’s body in a corner by the entrance of the door. Her head is tucked away in a corner and with one shoe off. She was found wearing the same jeans and jean jacket that she had on during the livestream as well as on surveillance camera. According to a police report, the shirt under her jacket was ‘pulled up exposing her breasts.’

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In a four page press release, the Rosemont Police Chief, Donald Stephens III, said: ‘At this time, the Rosemont Public Safety Department has closed the death investigation of Kenneka Jenkins and has classified this incident as an accidental death. There is no evidence that indicates any other conclusion.’

The Jenkins family is rightfully angry and state that these photos raise more questions than answers. Their lawyer, Larry Rogers Jr. said in a statement: ‘Frankly, [the] photos depicting how [Jenkins] was found raise more questions about what happened to [her] than they answer. The pictures are graphic and disturbing images and inexplicably show portions of [her] body exposed.’

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Kenneka’s mother, Theresa Martin, is rightfully angered at this conclusion and is upset at the hotel worker’s lack of urgency. Furthermore, the Jenkins family has not been given the full surveillance footage and has only seen ‘snippets.’ Tereasa has doubts about the validity of the police’s conclusion on her daughter’s death and says that if Kenneka was drunk she wouldn’t have been able to open the freezer doors.

‘Those were double steel doors, she didn’t just pop them open.’

As theories and controversies populate social media, one must wonder why there has been such a significant lack of transparency in a case of an ‘accidental death.’

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