Police are examining videos that were posted to social media in the hours leading up to the disappearance and death of a Near West Side woman in a hotel in Rosemont.
Now-viral video posted over the weekend appears to show Kenneka Jenkins, 19, and several other people in a room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the northwest suburb.
Early Sunday, Jenkins was found dead in a walk-in freezer in a vacant part of the hotel, authorities said. Her cause of death was not determined Sunday, pending further studies, and her death was considered noncriminal Monday evening, according to a Rosemont town spokesman.
Speaking to reporters after Jenkins was found, her mother, Tereasa Martin, said she felt: “Hurt. Pain. Suffering.”
Jenkins left her home at 11:30 p.m. Friday to go to a party in a room of the hotel, according to Rosemont Police. Jenkins’s 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 Jenkins, according to community activist Andrew 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 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. Holmes said Martin was told by police that Jenkins, while drunk, let herself into the freezer and died inside.
Gary Mack, a spokesman for Rosemont, said that some people in the video have been identified, though investigators “continue to work on the identities” of others seen.
“[Investigators] have been looking at the video from the very time they became aware of it,” Mack said. “They’re looking at everything they have.”
Holmes said Martin believes her daughter was the victim of “foul play.”
“She wants all of those people that were inside that room to come forward and talk to detectives and clear their name,” Holmes said. “Someone in that room knew what happened.”
Martin was told by police that Jenkins was seen on surveillance video near the hotel’s front desk, intoxicated to the point that she needed to lean against the wall.
If she was that drunk, her mother reasons, Jenkins would not have been able to open the freezer’s thick and heavy doors.
“It takes strength to open these doors,” Martin told reporters Monday. “So if she could barely hold herself up — she needed the wall to support her — how did she find strength to unlock both the double doors?”
It remained unclear Monday night how and by whom Jenkins was found in the freezer.
“That’s the million-dollar question,” Holmes said. “Who led them to the freezer and how did they know she was in the freezer?”
Mack declined to say what led police to finding Jenkins’ body, citing the ongoing investigation.
In the meantime, social media has been flooded with theories as to how Jenkins may have died.
A GoFundMe campaign to help with funeral costs has been established for the family.