Police press investigation into Chicago teen's death in hotel freezer

ByKARMA ALLEN via ABCNews logo
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Police press investigation into Chicago teen's death in hotel freezer
The body of Kenneka Jenkins, 19, was discovered inside a freezer at the Crowne Plaza hotel near O'Hare Airport. She was pronounced dead on Sept. 10, 2017 and autopsy results are pending.

Amid mounting pressure from demonstrators, police released more information about their investigation into the mysterious death of a Chicago teenager who was found dead in a hotel freezer last week.

The Rosemont Police Department said Wednesday evening that it has located and interviewed 12 people in connection with the case of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, whose body was discovered in a freezer at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, on Sunday morning after she attended a party there. It remains unclear how Jenkins died.

"Eight of those people interviewed were present the night/morning of the hotel gathering," the department said in a statement. "Additionally, we have positively identified four others who were present the night of the gathering and are working to locate and interview them."

Investigators are analyzing social media content and surveillance footage from 47 cameras at the hotel, the department said, adding that it sent "certain videos related to this investigation" to specialized forensic technicians for further analysis.

Separately, the department told The Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday that Jenkins' mother, Tereasa Martin, would be shown the security footage by Thursday afternoon.

The department's statement came as more than 100 protesters gathered near the hotel, some chanting and carrying signs that read "Justice for Kenneka."

"Our concern is that it was possibly foul play. I think that's what everybody's concern is, that there was a possible cover-up of her death," demonstrator William Calloway told ABC Chicago station WLS on Wednesday.

A viral Facebook Live video, shared by a friend of Jenkins' just hours before her death, has fueled conspiracy theories about how she died. Martin said she suspects foul play.

At an economic meeting on Wednesday, Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens called her death a "tragedy," according to WLS. He added, "It's unfortunate a lot of the social media posts that are going on and the rhetoric that's going on, and that is sort of convoluting things and making things a little more difficult, because they have to go and follow all those leads at the same time as they're trying to get to the bottom of this."

Jenkins' body was discovered in an industrial-size walk-in freezer in the basement of the hotel, according to Martin. She said that police, who had access to surveillance video, told her that Jenkins was intoxicated when she walked into the freezer and died there.

An autopsy performed on Sunday came back inconclusive, The Chicago Tribune reported Monday, and officials said it could take weeks before toxicology results are available.

Martin said her daughter's friends called her around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, saying Jenkins disappeared after they briefly left her alone in a hotel hallway.

The friends said they were in the car Martin lent her daughter for the night, Martin said. They had Jenkins' cellphone and keys, according to Martin, who said she doesn't believe them because their "stories changed over and over."

The Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare Hotel and Conference Center has directed questions about the case to the Rosemont Police Department.

"We are saddened by this news, and our thoughts are with the young woman and her family during this difficult time," the hotel said in a statement. "The hotel staff will continue to cooperate fully with local authorities."

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