Missing Chicago Teen Found Dead In Hotel's Walk-In Freezer: Was Foul Play Involved?

September 12, 2017 9:13 AM

Monya Fleming

Senior Contributor

A 19-year-old Chicago woman was found dead in the walk-in freezer of a hotel, a day after she was reported missing. The family of Kenneka Jenkins believe there was foul play involved, after friends of the late teen changed their stories multiple times.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office says Kenneka Jenkins was pronounced dead at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Chicago on Sunday following an hours-long search.

Rosemont police said Kenneka she was last seen at a party at the hotel early Saturday morning. She was reported missing Saturday afternoon.

The 19-year-old left her home for a party on the ninth floor of the hotel around 11:30 p.m. She was later seen at the party in the early hours of Saturday morning. She had been out celebrating her new job at a nursing home.

Kenneka's other, Tereasa Martin, said she received a call around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday from her daughter's friends. They said they were unable to find Jenkins after the party. 


Jenkins' friends told her mother that they lost track of her in the hotel and left when they couldn’t find her. They were in the car she was borrowing from Martin for the night and had her cellphone.


Martin immediately went to the hotel and asked them to check their surveillance footage to locate her daughter. Hotel staff discovered Jenkins inside the walk-in freezer at around 12:24 am on Sunday.

Martin said police told her Kenneka had apparently let herself into the walk-in freezer and then died inside. 


Police are reviewing surveillance video, as well as videos posted on social media in the investigation. A Facebook Live video appeared to show Jenkins in a hotel room, reflected in the sunglasses worn by the woman filming the video.


Jenkins' mother believes there was foul play involved. She said, "I believe someone in this hotel killed my child. (I’m) horrified. It’s something that no one could ever imagine. It’s unbelievable."

Martin pointed out that if Kenneda was drunk that it would have been difficult to open the heavy freezer doors. "Those were double steel doors, she didn’t just pop them open," she said.

Martin is also questioning the friends’ accounts of that night. She said their stories keep changing over and over. 

The hotel issued a statement on the tragic news, saying, "We are saddened by this news, and our thoughts are with the young woman and her family during this difficult time."

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