Chicago teen’s death in hotel freezer questioned by family

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ROSEMONT, Ill. -- The body of a Chicago teenager was found inside a walk-in freezer at a Rosemont hotel hours after she was reported missing, WGN TV is reporting.

Initial reports indicate the teen was extremely intoxicated, let herself into the freezer at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and then became incapacitated inside where she died. Family members, however, say they aren't convinced that is what actually happened.

According to reports, Kenneka Jenkins, 19, was at a party in Rosemont celebrating a new job the evening of Friday, Sept. 8. When friends of Jenkins could not find her the next morning, they called her mother, who asked employees at the hotel where she was last scene to check surveillance footage.

Martin and her older daughter, Leonore Harris, went door to door at the hotel looking for Kenneka. The hotel called police on them for disturbing the peace.

Harris filed a missing person report with the Rosemont Police Saturday afternoon.

Rosemont police said after the report was filed, the hotel "actively canvassed and searched the immediate area."

Jenkins' body was discovered in a walk-in freezer in the hotel around 12:24 a.m. Sunday, according to police, and she was pronounced dead on the scene.

Martin said police told her Jenkins apparently let herself into the walk-in cooler and then died inside.

"She was so drunk--that was his exact words--she was so drunk she couldn't hold herself up. She was holding on to the wall," Martin said.

However, she said she wasn't satisfied with their version of events, because of safety features that make it possible to open coolers from the inside.

Martin said that if her daughter was drunk, she would have had difficulty opening the heavy freezer doors and would have realized she wasn't entering an elevator or the hotel entrance.

"The freezer door is heavy. So there's no way. If they're saying she's drunk, she don't have no strength. If she had enough strength to open that freezer door, she would have had enough strength to walk straight," Harris said.

"I believe someone in this hotel killed my child," Martin said.

The hotel issued a statement Sunday evening:

We are saddened by this news, and our thoughts are with the young woman and her family during this difficult time. The hotel staff will continue to cooperate fully with local authorities. All further questions should be directed to the Rosemont Police Department.