Sep 14, 2017, 4:09 AM ET

Police conduct new interviews, dig through security footage in Chicago teen found dead in freezer


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."

News - Police conduct new interviews, dig through security footage in Chicago teen found dead in freezer

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  • been there

    By observing the video, it appears she is extremely intoxicated and roaming the hotel hallways alone after attending a party in a hotel room booked by using a stolen credit card and identity theft. A couple of very bad decisions. Now let's look for someone else to blame so she can remain the victim and not place any responsibility upon her Mother or this poor child who was asset to the community.

  • George Arthur

    Is the Hotel freezer left unlocked and accessible to anyone?

  • Rudi Stein

    sounds like she needed a higher tolerance for the sauce and better friends

  • Charles_Heston

    Doubt she got into there on her own. One or more of her "friends" need to come clean as to what happened.

  • JockSavant

    How many of these protesters are her friends , and how many just like to protest over a perceived wrongdoing? There is an ongoing investigation, what is it these folks want? Seems premature.

  • DeWhit

    This is tragic for the young woman and her family.
    It seems that her "friends" must have been under the influence of something to lose track of her in her condition, or , they were in the same condition and worse, or , they just weren't much of a friend.

  • Dicazi

    It's disturbing in these days of terrorism, how easy it is to get into non-public areas of large hotels.
    Shouldn't there be at least a keypad entry?
    Obviously the security cameras weren't monitored in real time.

  • JockSavant

    I'm against protesting, but I don't know how to show it.

    -Mitch Hedberg

  • Drunk Uncle

    What are we mad about today?

  • anastasiabeaverhousen

    The freezer was not working and was in an area which was under construction, according to reports I have read. Further, it was equipped with an interior mechanism to allow someone inside to open the door, so she didn't simply wander in and get trapped (unless she entered and subsequently became incapacitated to the point that she was unable to let herself out). And she didn't freeze to death in a non-working freezer. It would take quite a while to suffocate in such a large space, even assuming no ventilation (although the 24 hour delay in launching a search could have allowed that to occur).

    So what killed her? Pehaps an overdose or other reaction to alchohol or other drugs, but even if she was wasted upon entering, minus some acute toxicity she would have simply passed out and woken later, sobered up, and let herself out.

    It appears unclear whether they have video surrveilance from that area.

    "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," he added."

    Following leads is HOW you get to the bottom of a case. The police refused to investigate for over 24 hours despite the concerns of the mother and are now on the defensive because their delay and their assumptions about what happened could be partly responsible for her death.

  • Kevin Edwards

    Ricky Smiley Morning Show was the broadcast

  • Rudi Stein

    pretty simple. sounds like she can't hold her liquor and has shi77y friends.

  • Lifeishortgetaladder.

    OK she didn't have her phone, keys.. which is pretty suspicious because those two things you never just set down and leave anywhere, or? In some suicide cases they lay them out orderly on the edge of a building or on their desk... or give to a close friend, and jump.

  • Kobrakai7272

    The police are making this an issue when it doesn't need to be. By all accounts, the surveillance video is quite clear on the events. She entered the freezer alone and did not leave until her body was found. If, indeed, this is what happened, how hard is it to announce that. State that you will follow up all leads but all available evidence so far including multiple surveillance videos points to a tragic accident.... and they should have let mom... or somebody approved by the family... see those videos days ago to confirm it. Now they will never be able to shut the conspiracy theorists up.

  • Rabbit2011

    Why are people protesting? The police didn't put her in the freezer? It sounds like they're interviewing witnesses and gathering information which takes time. This isn't TV where cases are solved in an hour.

  • Abby1

    If the young lady did not accidentally walk into the freezer while intoxicated, the focus should be on the persons that were in the hotel room with her that night. I think the police will resolve this case soon. At least one video from the party was widely released on the internet. I am sure other videos and photos from the party will shed additional light on what might have happened.

  • carrollfamily

    I'm wondering if this was a prank gone horribly wrong.