Kenneka Jenkins was born on May 27th, 1998 to Tereasa Martin in Chicago. Growing up it was said Kenneka had a bright beautiful smile and she was very smart and responsible. Her favorite color was purple and she was 5’5 and 159 pounds at 19-years-old.
Kenneka’s mother had just had breast surgery due to cancer and Kenneka was supposed to be watching out for her. She had a very good relationship with her mother. On September 8th, 2017 Kenneka told her mother she was going to go out with some friends. She told her they would be going bowling and then to a movie to celebrate her getting a job at a nursing home. Kenneka borrowed her mom’s car and left the house around 11 pm.
Kenneka and 3 of her friends did not go out bowling or to a movie that night. They instead went to a party on the 9th floor of the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont Illinois. Security footage shows the group entering from a side entrance around 1 am. At1:30am Kenneka sent a text to her sister, the last her family would ever hear from her. There the group of friends shared Snapchat and Facebook live videos of the party but it was clear the girls were not happy at the party. It is said there were males at the party who would aggressively flirt with the girls even after they told them to back off.
Around 3 am the girls decided to leave the party when Kenneka realized she had left her belongings, car keys, and cell phone back in the room. Some sources claim the girls left her alone in the hotel lobby while others say she was left in the hallway on the 9th floor by the elevator.
Despite where they were, all three of her friends left to retrieve Kenneka’s belongings from the party and left her alone. They were gone for about 10-20 minutes and when the group returned to where they had left her, she was gone. The friends searched the hotel trying to find Kenneka but had no luck. They decided to call her mother between 4 and 4:30 am to let her know they couldn’t find her daughter and asked if Kenneka had maybe gone home without them.
When they realized she hadn’t gone home they drove to pick up Tereasa and she was brought back to the hotel to search for Kenneka herself. She felt like Kenneka’s friends were hiding something but couldn’t tell what. She could also tell they had been drinking and possibly were high. She asked if her daughter had drunk anything and they told her she had one drink. Kenneka’s mother said she didn’t handle alcohol very well and that one drink would be too much for her.
She asked the front desk for help and they refused. She asked to see the security footage or for their security officer to look at them to figure out where her daughter had gone but they told her only the police could look at the tapes.
At 7:15 am Tereasa called 911 about her missing daughter and the dispatch said to her that her friends could be lying and that Kenneka was probably just passed out drunk in a random hotel room. He told Tereasa to go home and relax and wait a few more hours for her to show up. The next day Kenneka was officially reported as missing and the police began their investigation.
The investigation began around 1:15 pm the next day, on September 9th. Hotel staff claimed they looked at the security footage but didn’t see anything. Police searched the hotel and surrounding areas but came up with nothing. It wasn’t until around 10 pm when an officer decided to look back through the security tapes when he discovered Kenneka stumbling around the hallways of the hotel lobby around 3:20 am. She appeared to be extremely intoxicated. She was running into walls and looked confused.
After this, the police sent out a second search team to look for her and follow her last known steps. Kenneka had gotten into an elevator and taken it down to the lower level of the hotel where she stumbled out of it and down the hallway. She is seen walking upstairs and into another hallway, at one point walking into the men's bathroom. She eventually found her way to a kitchen that was under renovation and not being used. The last known footage shows her walking through this kitchen back towards the double freezer. The video does not show her walking into the freezer but it’s speculated she opened the door, walked in, and couldn’t find her way out again. It was reported to be a double freezer, a cooler in the front, and a second door leading to the freezer area.
While this kitchen was under renovation and not in use, the freezer was still on and running. It was about 34 degrees F and she was in total darkness. The lights were not on in said freezer, but it was still running because it was currently being used as extra storage for food for an upcoming new restaurant in the hotel.
Kenneka was found around 1 am on September 10th, 2017 dead inside the freezer unite. She was found lying on the floor, hair messy, and with one shoe off. She had been wearing ripped jeans, a crop-top jean jacket, and a white bra. She was frozen solid, as the police described her.
No foul play is suspected by the police. The first autopsy came back saying their investigation was inconclusive, however, later autopsy reports say she died from hypothermia. She had some scratches and wounds on her foot and ankle that were exposed from not having a shoe on, but other than that no wounds or markings were found. No signs of struggle or a fight had been found. Her toxicology report came back showing a blood alcohol level of 0.112 making her legally drunk. This also would have hastened the hypothermia. She also had a prescription drug in her system that her mother said she was not prescribed. It was topiramate, a drug used for epilepsy or to help prevent migraines. It can also be used to help lose weight and control muscle spasms.
Kenneka Jenkins's death was officially ruled an accident. Her mother and friends have later said they believe otherwise, that foul play had to be involved.
While there are thousands of theories out there I will only be talking about a few.
One popular theory is that her friends had something to do with her death. The theory goes that her friends had allegedly sold her to be assaulted and killed by someone or multiple people at the party. While people believe that she was killed somewhere else and placed in the freezer, the security tapes prove otherwise. She also had no evidence of being sexually assaulted when the autopsy was done. Her friends looked for her for an hour and a half before calling her mother and continued to help look for her after.
Other theories say the hotel had something to do with her death and that her being in the freezer is a cover-up. Some people believe she was lured into the freezer by someone working at the hotel and was locked in. Another idea that ties into this one is that she was killed off-camera and transferred via black garbage back to the freezer and dumped to make it look like she stumbled into the freezer on her own. People seem to find it suspicious that the hotel is taking out the trash so late at night, but this was a 24-hour service hotel from my understanding. Another detail that fuels this theory that something happened to her and the hotel was covering it up, was that the party being held at the hotel was purchased using stolen credit cards and that there was underage drinking along with other illegal drugs being used at this party. The hotel knew about the party as they had a noise complaint but did nothing to stop it. A lot of people think the hotel was trying to hide Kenneka’s death so they wouldn’t get in trouble for having an illegal party at their hotel.
Another theory claims the video evidence was tampered with and someone was following her the whole time she was stumbling around the hotel. They claim an employee edited out the person following her to cover up what happened to her. They say the hotel did this and refused to help her mother by looking at the tapes because they were editing them. They didn’t want the hotel to get bad publicity for having a murder happen in their hotel. While it is probably true that the hotel didn’t want bad publicity, I find it hard to believe someone would go through and edit out a person in each and every camera shot they have of her. Besides she looks confused while stumbling around, she doesn’t appear to be following anybody or trying to evade anybody.
In 2018 the family filed a $50 million dollar lawsuit against the Crowne Plaza hotel for her daughter's death. She claims the hotel is neglectful for not properly securing the renovated area and locking it off from the public. She also blames the hotel for not doing anything to stop or end the party that had at least 30 people in a room made for 4 people. There had been a noise complaint about the room and the staff still did nothing about it.
The lawsuit also goes on to say the staff members were neglectful in not allowing Tereasa to view the security footage to help find her daughter, or having a security officer look at the tapes for her. She said if the staff had helped her when she asked for it, they could have found her daughter sooner.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.