19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in a hotel freezer in Rosemont, Illinois on September 10, 2017 after attending a party in one of the hotel rooms. Her death was ruled accidental but others disagree.
About the Case
Around 11:30 p.m. on September 8, 2017, 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins left her west side Chicago home. She told her mother she was going to hang out with friends and go bowling. In reality, the teen was going to a party.
At 12:15 a.m. on September 9, 2017, Kenneka and three of her friends arrived at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel and Conference Center in Rosemont, Illinois to attend a party in room 926. Up to as many as 30 people were at this party.
At 4:34 a.m., Kenneka’s friends called her mother, Tereasa Martin to inform her that Kenneka was missing and that they had not seen her for a couple hours. The friends said they were in the car Martin had lent Kenneka for the night and they had Jenkins’ cellphone.
Martin arrived at the hotel around 5:00 a.m. explaining to staff that her daughter was missing from the hotel and asked to see surveillance video. The staff denied her access to the footage, and told her she must first file a missing persons report.
When Martin went to Rosement Police Department, an officer told her to go home and wait. Kenneka would probably show up.
Hours later at around 3:00 p.m. on September 10th, a missing person report was finally filed after Kenneka failed to return home.
A search by police, firefighters, family, and hotel staff resulted in the discovery of Kenneka’s body in a freezer in an abandoned kitchen of the hotel at 12:25 a.m. on September 10th. Kenneka was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m.
Four hours after the discovery of the body, Kenneka’s family was allowed to view the body. Martin identified it as being her daughter, Kenneka Jenkins. Kenneka’s sister later told the press the family was only allowed to see the body from the neck up. She noticed that Kenneka’s hair was wet, most likely from the body defrosting. She also said her sister’s hair was all over the place, like she had struggled with someone before she died.
Police interviewed most of the people at the party, but it is unclear what came from those interviews. Whoever checked in to the hotel used a fraudulent credit card obtained through identity theft.
Kenneka Jenkins on Surveillance Video
A few days after Kenneka’s body was found, police released hotel surveillance video showing her last moments alive.
Between 2:24 a.m. and 2:32 a.m., Kenneka is seen on video stumbling off an elevator and down hallways before walking into the kitchen towards the freezer. She appears heavily intoxicated and disoriented. Kenneka was not seen around this time in the front desk area of the hotel, although police say she stumbled near there around 3:20 a.m.
Shortly before the release of the videos, an activist named Andrew Holmes told the media he was allowed to view the videos on behalf of the family of Kenneka Jenkins. He claimed he clearly saw Kenneka walk alone into the freezer and shut the door. However, police say this is false. There is no video footage of Kenneka walking into the footage because there are no cameras in that area of the kitchen.
Family members said they had no connection to Holmes, and he did not represent the family in any way.
On October 6, 2017, police released autopsy results.
Kenneka died from hypothermia after being exposed to conditions of the walk-in freezer, the Medical Examiner’s Office said in a news release issued Friday.
Toxicology tests detected alcohol and topiramate, an epilepsy/migraine medication, in the woman’s system. Her blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.112, which is higher than the 0.08 BAC level that is considered as legally drunk for motorists in Illinois, the coroner’s office said.
The autopsy determined the substantial factor in the death was cold exposure, and the alcohol and drug found in her system were capable of hastening the onset of hypothermia and death, the medical examiner’s office found.
Jenkins did not have a prescription for the topiramate medication, her family reportedly told investigators. The amount of the drug in her system was in the “therapeutic range,” the coroner’s office said. (CBS News)
Two people at the party – Randle Jordan and Irene Roberts – each recorded a Facebook live video during the party. Kenneka is seen on Jordan’s video several times, and she appears to be having a good time and is not under duress. She is not seen on Roberts’ video; however some claim you can hear her voice at one point.
In Roberts’ video, at around 3:09, it sounds like someone say, “Help me” right before someone cranks the music up. Some believe the voice belongs to Kenneka. Some also say you can see someone, also believed to be Kenneka, in the reflection of Roberts’ sunglasses, lying on the bed across from Roberts (more discussion on this below).
Kenneka Jenkins was laid to rest on Saturday, September 30, 2017. Over 1,000 people attended her funeral to pay their respects.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
As I was doing last-minute touches to this post, the autopsy report was finally released, so I had to revise AGAIN. I believed she was murdered. Even after the release of the autopsy report and toxicology results, I’m still not convinced this was an accident. Too many questions still remain.
I mean, let’s be real here. Who the hell, drunk off your ass or not, would walk into a FREEZER at a HOTEL to REST, especially when the freezer is ON? I’ve been wasted off my ass before, and I would not have done anything like that. I don’t believe Kenneka did either.
I have to question why Kenneka would have taken topiramate if she did not have a prescription for it. Did she have Epilepsy? Suffer from migraines? Obivously not if this was not prescribed to her. So the question here is: did she take it voluntarily for a headache, let’s say, or did someone slip it into her drink knowing it would enhance intoxication?
According to her mother, Kenneka was not a big drinker, and in the Jordan video, it doesn’t even look like she has a drink in her hand.
Not one other person at the party who is seen on hotel surveillance video is stumbling and barely able to walk like Kenneka was. This is why I think it’s possible someone slipped the drug into her drink.
A few days after Kenneka’s death, the coroner’s office said the autopsy results were “inconclusive” and that they were waiting on toxicology reports to come in. So, how can they NOW say she died from exposure if originally the results were inconclusive? Makes no sense.
There is no way this girl voluntarily walked into that freezer. She may have walked into that part of the kitchen alone (if that’s her in the video), but someone else could have been in there, too. After all, there are no cameras in that area even though cameras are all over the place at this hotel. Someone could have forced her into the freezer. There is no footage that we know of where people are seen carrying Kenneka’s body to the kitchen.
Let’s talk about the surveillance videos because there is MUCH to be seen on them.
Police initially said that Kenneka was seen on video randomly opening and shutting hotel doors, yet she is not seen doing this in any of the videos I have seen.
In the videos, there are time discrepancies. The hotel videos I use in this post shows a time stamp starting around 2:24 a.m. However, the original video released to WGN shows an hour later. Police say there is video of Kenneka stumbling near the front desk at 3:20 a.m. but I could not find this video. If she was, it was probably 2:20 a.m. because that fits with the timeline. Martin said Kenneka’s friends had not seen her for a couple of hours when they called her at 4:34 a.m.
Some people believe the hotel videos were edited to block certain people out of the video. The red lines in the videos are motion sensors. Some of these sensors go off when it appears nobody else is in the video other than Kenneka, but you can see the red lines around her, too.
And others also believe that it is NOT Kenneka in the videos, but someone from the party dressed to look and act the part. I admit, I wondered that myself.
For me, the biggest proof that it may not be Kenneka is the weight and hair of the girl in the video. Kenneka was clearly a slim girl, yet the girl in the videos is heavier than Kenneka and her hair is different.
Here’s one of Kenneka’s back. In the first photo, Kenneka is in the background standing, with her back toward the camera.
I can’t say for sure if this is Kenneka or not. They say the camera adds 10 pounds to a person but, that looks like more than 10 pounds to me lol.
Something else to consider. Kenneka’s sister said Kenneka’s hair was all over the place – looked wild – when she viewed her body. Yet, her hair does not look that way as she’s walking towards the freezer. Another reason to believe this may not be Kenneka on the video.
People say you can see someone laying on the bed opposite of Roberts in the reflection of her mirrored sunglasses (left lens). I admit, it does look like it, but hard to tell exactly what we’re looking at. I do see a guy in a red jacket who I believe has been identified as Bernard Radley.
People also say you can hear “help me” in Robert’s video right before the music is cranked up. It does sound like it. I listened to that over and over and it does sound like someone is asking for help. If so, is that someone Kenneka? What is happening to her at that moment? Why on earth did Roberts record a video when a crime may have been occurring?
I think Roberts and Shelton know way more than they are saying. When Kenneka’s friends (Shelton and the other 2 Kenneka arrived with) called Martin, they said they had her cell phone. I think that is a lie. Look at the pics below. It looks like her cell phone is in her back right pocket. The image on the right was taken in a mirror in the hotel room, so even though that looks like her left pocket, it’s her right.
- It is not Kenneka in the video; therefore, the cell phone in the back right pocket belongs to the girl portraying Kenneka.
- It is Kenneka in the video and she has her cell phone, which proves the girls were lying.
So, if this us just an accidental death, why did the girls lie to Martin? According to Martin, they’ve also changed their stories several times. WHY?
You also have to wonder why these girls would drive Kenneka’s car and just leave their friend at the hotel. She’s missing at this point so if her car is still there, this should have been a red flag to the girls that something wasn’t right. Nope, they just left her there.
One thing that bothers me about Kenneka roaming around the hotel “drunk” is why? Why was she roaming around? People say she appears lost and disoriented, but she’s capable of using the elevator. So, why didn’t she just take the elevator to the main floor where the front desk is? Or take it to back to the 9th floor? She appears to have a cell phone so why didn’t she call somebody? It does NOT make sense that she just wandered aimlessly around this hotel at 2:30 in the morning.
Is this a crime being covered up by the hotel and/or police, like many believe? If so, what is the reason? I have no idea. But would it surprise me? Hell no.
Rosemont PD does have a history of police corruption and covering up crimes but that was to benefit the police officers involved. So, I don’t see that really applying here. However, there are some strange things going on. Why did they wait FOUR hours before letting Martin view her daughter’s body? And why only from the neck up?? Why was she pronounced dead 23 minutes after she was found?
Police say they tried to revive her. Seriously? I’m pretty sure it would have been obvious she was dead upon discovery, so I think that is bogus. If what they’re saying is true, then she was in there from around 2:34 a.m. on the 9th until 12:25 a.m. on the 10th. Obviously, she would be dead. I don’t believe that they actually tried to revive a frozen corpse.
There is footage of the kitchen area when Kenneka’s body was found. A hotel employee, presumably a manager, casually walks into the kitchen, back towards the freezer, and then casually walks out of the kitchen. A short while later, police walk in to the freezer area. WTF? You just found a dead body and you’re not running to get the police? And how did he know to walk right to the freezer? I just found that odd.
So many freaking questions in this case.
Of all the hotels in the Chicagoland area, why did the party group choose this one which is located in a suburb near the airport?
Why did Kenneka’s friends wait 2 hours after they noticed her missing to call Martin? TWO HOURS. Hell, if that was my friend, and I arrived at the party with her, I would have noticed right away if she was gone.
Who was the person who checked into the hotel using a stolen credit card and why has this person not been arrested for identity theft? No mention of this in any of the reports I read.
Where is the footage from the 9th floor? I’ve seen footage all over the place – in hallways, the kitchen, lobby – but what about the 9th floor? Shelton, I believe it was, said that Kenneka went out in the hallway before she disappeared. Where is the footage of this?
In video released of the lobby, you clearly can see members of the party there at 4a.m., including Shelton, but none of them appear drunk, like Kenneka. They are all walking FINE, and no one appears to really be looking for anyone. Shelton and Roberts both claimed they went looking for Kenneka. Everyone is just kind of meandering around. One girl, I shit you not, starts twerking. TWERKING. In the lobby. She obviously wasn’t too worried about finding anyone.
There are many unanswered questions in this case even after the release of the autopsy report. I hope her death was accidental because I really hate the thought that the people she loved and trusted the most betrayed her