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Videos catch glimpses of Kenneka Jenkins’ final hours at Crowne Plaza

Kenneka Jenkins

Kenneka Jenkins | Facebook photo

She arrived at the hotel to party with her friends.

She stumbled down a hallway.

And she walked unsteadily through a hotel kitchen, disappearing around a corner.

Those were among the images of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins captured on surveillance video at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where she was found dead in a walk-in freezer last weekend. Rosemont police released nine video files Friday afternoon.

One video shows her walking alone in the hotel kitchen around 3:30 a.m. Saturday but does not directly show her walking into the freezer where she was found dead.

Among the clips, Jenkins can be seen arriving at the hotel with three other people shortly after midnight on Saturday. Subsequent clips show her stumbling off elevators and walking alone through hallways.

The release of the videos came hours after the lawyer for Jenkins’ mother said “serious questions remain” about the circumstances involving Jenkins’ death — and capped a week of apparent miscommunication between several of the parties involved.

Rosemont police opted to make the videos public during a press conference held by Jenkins’ mother’s attorneys — during which those attorneys repeatedly said they had been shown only a few “snippets” of video from the night Jenkins died. A day earlier, the Crowne Plaza had issued a statement offering to show Jenkins’ family all 36 hours of footage in private.

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, longtime Chicago anti-violence activist Andrew Holmes has said. An hour later, Tereasa Martin — who had recently undergone a double mastectomy — 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.

Rosemont police released a statement Friday evening saying detectives had interviewed 25 people so far during their investigation. Of those, 16 were in the hotel room during the party. Police continue trying to locate and interview another 15.

It was also determined, police said, that the room used for the party was paid for with a “fraudulent credit card obtained through identity theft.”

Since the weekend, Twitter and Facebook have been deluged with theories about Jenkins’ death — with many believing she was murdered. Rosemont police have said Jenkins’ death is considered noncriminal and that there was “no credible evidence at this point” that would prompt police to reclassify Jenkins’ death as a murder. Her autopsy was inconclusive pending further study.

Village officials on Friday also released 911 calls and police radio dispatches related to the search for Jenkins.

Martin called 911 from the hotel about 7:15 a.m. Saturday asking for police to help get the hotel to turn over security camera footage. The dispatcher advised her to wait a few hours in case her daughter turned up elsewhere.

A little before 6 p.m., another female, who didn’t indicate her relationship to Jenkins, made a tearful 911 call to file a missing person report; the dispatcher tells her a report already had been filed. Police said Jenkins was formally reported missing about 1:15 p.m.

Officers were dispatched to the hotel by 2 p.m., and they spent hours canvassing floors and trying to figure out on which floor Jenkins was last seen, according to radio transmissions.

At one point, the hotel’s front desk called police to remove Jenkins’ mother from the premises, saying she was going door-to-door throughout the building looking for her daughter.

At 12:25 a.m. Sunday, an officer radioed from a kitchen near a loading dock in the rear of the hotel.

“I have the subject in a kitchen in a freezer,” the officer said. “She is frozen solid.”

Thursday, the Crowne Plaza released a statement saying the hotel would allow Jenkins’ family to watch, in private, all 36 hours of video from more than 40 different cameras. The hotel also offered to cover funeral expenses. At Friday’s press conference, Martin’s attorneys said they were not aware of any such offer.

Glenn Harton, a Crowne Plaza spokesman, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Thursday’s offers were relayed to three well-known community activists in Chicago: Jedidiah Brown, Ja’Mal Green and Andrew Holmes. Harton said that as of Thursday, the hotel didn’t know if Martin had retained an attorney and the three activists were told of the offers because “they all identified themselves as spokespeople for the family.”

It was not known if Brown, Green or Holmes relayed the message to Martin. None of the three responded to requests for comment Friday evening. Friday afternoon, Harton said the family had not taken the hotel up on its offers.

In a statement Friday afternoon, Martin’s attorneys said: “No other person is or has been authorized to speak on behalf of the family.”

Shortly after the offer was made Thursday, Holmes said he saw surveillance footage and said Jenkins went into the freezer by herself, without being forced inside.

“We all was wondering and wanted to know did anybody pull her down there?” Holmes said, contradicting Rogers’ statement. “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.’”

Sam Adam Jr., one of Martin’s attorneys, said Friday: “I don’t know what Mr. Holmes saw or he didn’t. Quite frankly, to our investigation, it’s irrelevant.”

“At the end of the day,” Adam said, “we have a child who is dead and a mother who doesn’t know why.”

Contributing: Mitchell Armentrout