A 19-year-old Chicago female was found dead in a walk-in freezer at the Rosemont Hotel on Sunday, one day after she was reported missing after attending a party with friends at the hotel.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Kenneka Jenkins was found and pronounced dead at the scene on Sunday at 12:48 am.
Jenkins’ mother, Tereasa Martin, said police told her that her daughter “apparently let herself into the freezer while inebriated and died inside.”
Becky Schlikerman, the spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office, said an autopsy was performed on Sunday, but it was unclear if foul play played a role in Jenkins death.
Martin said, “(I’m) horrified. It’s something that no one could ever imagine. It’s unbelievable.”
Jenkins reportedly left her home around 11:30 pm Friday to attend a party with her friends in a hotel room at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center in Rosemont. Jenkins’ sister last spoke with her Saturday around 1:30 am.
Witnesses say they last saw Jenkins at the party located on the ninth floor of the hotel.
Martin said that Jenkins’ friends had notified her around 4 am that they had lost track of Jenkins and that they were in the car that Martin had lent to her daughter for the night and that they also had Jenkins’ cell phone.
Around 5 am Martin headed to the hotel to look for her daughter. The hotel staff told her she had to have a missing person report before they could search surveillance footage. After contacting police a few more hours went by before a missing person’s report was filed.
According to Gary Mack, a spokesman for the village of Rosemont, an 11-hour search was conducted, which included all public areas and the ninth floor of the hotel, where Jenkins was last seen.
Around 3 or 4 pm Saturday police said they did not spot Jenkins on the hotel video footage. Around 10 pm they notified family members of Jenkins and said that she was seen around 3:20 am “staggering” drunk near the front desk.
It’s not clear at the moment who located Jenkins’ body, but the hotel was doing some construction around the area where she was found. Martin said she was told the freezer that her daughter was found in was turned on and cold, but not being used to store food.
Martin said she didn’t know of the party until Jenkins’ friends called her, she said she was told by her daughter she was “going to the show and bowling” on Friday night.
Martin is questioning Jenkins’ friends’ accounts as their “stories changed over and over.” She is also questioning the police’s account as well, saying if her daughter had been drunk, it would have been difficult for her to open the heavy freezer doors.
Martin said, “Those were double steel doors, she didn’t just pop them open.”
She’s also angry with the hotel staffers for their lack of urgency when she first arrived at the hotel. “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.
This story is still developing.
We send our prayers to the family and friends of Kenneka Jenkins during this difficult time.