A Chicago activist who claims to have seen surveillance footage of Kenneka Jenkins in the hours before her death told reporters Thursday that the 19-year-old went into a Rosemont hotel’s walk-in freezer by herself, without being forced inside.
“We all was wondering and wanted to know did anybody pull her down there?” Andrew Holmes said. “Did anybody force her down there? Was anybody on the other side in that room when she got down there? And the answer to that is ‘no.’”
The statement from the longtime Chicago anti-violence activist directly contradicts a torrent of social media theories that speculated Jenkins’ death was brought on by forces far more sinister.
Earlier Thursday, the Crowne Plaza Hotel announced its intention to cover Jenkins’ funeral expenses.
In a statement, a spokesman said the hotel has also extended an offer to the family that would allow them to privately view 36 total hours of surveillance recordings from 40 different cameras.
“Our hearts go out to the Kenneka’s mother, her family and friends. We hope covering the funeral costs provides a small bit of relief for them,” hotel spokesman Glenn Harston said in the statement.
It was not known if Jenkins’ family had accepted either offer.
The hotel’s announcement that it would pay for funeral expenses came less than a day after more than 100 protesters took to the streets near the northwest suburban hotel, amid theories spreading on social media that there was foul play in Jenkins’ death.
Activists chanting “No justice, no peace” and carrying signs calling for “Justice for Kenneka” marched down River Road near Balmoral, shutting down traffic in the busy entertainment district.
Wednesday evening, a police spokesman once again said Jenkins’ death was considered noncriminal and that there was “no credible evidence at this point” that would prompt police to reclassify Jenkins’ death as a murder.
Police in Rosemont planned to show Tereasa Martin, Jenkins’ mother, security footage from the hotel on Thursday, though not the full 36 hours.
Jenkins left her home near the United Center at 11:30 p.m. Friday to go to a party in a room of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, according to Rosemont Police. Jenkins’ sister last heard from her via text message about 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
About 4 a.m., Jenkins’ friends called her mother to tell her they could not find her, according to Holmes. An hour later, Martin was at the hotel. She filled out a police report and Jenkins’ sister reported her missing.
Jenkins was last seen at a party on the ninth floor of the hotel in the early hours of Saturday, police said. She was reported missing at 1:16 p.m. that afternoon. Police told Martin that surveillance footage showed Jenkins inebriated near the front desk, according to Holmes.
Hotel staff and management searched the hotel and discovered Jenkins inside a freezer at 12:24 a.m. Sunday, police said.