Mystery After Chicago Teen is Found Dead in Hotel Freezer: 'I Believe Someone Killed My Child,' Mom Says
Kenneka Jenkins, 19, was found dead in a walk-in freezer over the weekend at a Rosemont hotel
An Illinois mother is searching for answers after her 19-year-old daughter was found dead in a walk-in freezer at a Rosemont hotel over the weekend following a party with friends.
Kenneka Jenkins’ body was found at Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel on Sunday where she was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m., the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office confirms to PEOPLE.
“[I’m] horrified,” Jenkins’ mother, Tereasa Martin, told reporters on Sunday, according to the Chicago Tribune. “It’s something that no one could ever imagine. It’s unbelievable.”
A cause of the death has not yet been determined.
Police said Jenkins left her home at around 11:30 p.m. on Friday, heading to a party on the ninth floor of the hotel, WGN reports. Martin told the station that Jenkins’ friends called her at around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday when they could not find Jenkins.
After the discovery of her body, Martin said police told her that her daughter was likely so drunk that she stumbled into the walk-in freezer. However, the grieving family was not convinced, and now, police tell PEOPLE they no longer believe she went into the freezer under her own power.
“The freezer door is heavy. So there’s no way. If they’re saying she’s drunk, she don’t have no strength,” Jenkins’ sister, Leonore Harris, told WGN. “If she had enough strength to open that freezer door, she would have had enough strength to walk straight.”
Martin added: “I believe someone in this hotel killed my child.”
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Martin did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.
Martin and Harris headed to the hotel at around 5 a.m. to look for Jenkins, and officials told the pair that staff could not review surveillance footage without a missing persons report being filed, the Tribune reports. Rosemont police allegedly told the women to wait a few more hours before filing a report, Martin told the publication.
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They filed the report Saturday afternoon. But Martin said Jenkins may still be alive if officials had acted immediately.
“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 told the Tribune.
Rosemont police did not respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
Jenkins’ friends allegedly called Martin and told her they had Kenneka’s cell phone and the car Martin let her daughter borrow, she told the Tribune.
But Martin has questioned the friends’ accounts, telling the publication that their “stories changed over and over.”