ROSEMONT, IL — A Chicago teen was found dead Sunday inside a walk-in freezer at a Rosemont hotel. The family of Kenneka Jenkins, 19, said police told them the teen was inebriated when she let herself into the freezer and died inside. The teen was reportedly at a party on the ninth floor of the hotel celebrating a new job.
Her mother, Tereasa Martin, set up a GoFundMe page titled “Justice for Kenneka,” saying, “We believe there is more to the story,” and adding, “Since this is still under investigation, there isn’t much I can say.”
Martin spoke with reporters outside the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center in Rosemont, where Jenkins was found dead on Sunday. She said her daughter left home around 11:30 p.m. Friday to attend a party at the hotel.
“(I’m) horrified,” she told the Chicago Tribune. Martin said she heard from her daughter’s friends just 4 a.m. Saturday to say they couldn’t find her.
She told WGN she headed straight to the hotel, where she asked them to check surveillance video. She said she was told to contact police, so she called 911 and was told to wait a few hours because Jenkins could be out with friends.
“We were begging for help, and no one was helping,” Jenkins told WGN. Jenkins’ sister filed a missing person report with Rosemont police on Saturday afternoon, kicking off an 11-hour search for the 19-year-old.
Jenkins’ body was found inside the walk-in freezer. She was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m. Sunday, according to the Cook County medical examiner.
The Crowne Plaza issued a statement on Sunday, telling ABC-7 it was “saddened by this news, and our thoughts are with the young woman and her family during this difficult time.” The hotel said the safety of its guests and employees is its first priority, adding that hotel staff is cooperating with authorities.
Jenkins’ mother told WGN she has a hard time believing police’s version of events, saying safety features make it possible to open walk-in cooler doors from the inside. She also said that if her daughter was drunk, she would have had trouble opening the heavy freezer doors and realized they weren’t the doors to an elevator or hotel entrance.
“I believe someone in this hotel killed my child,” Martin said.
A GoFundMe page created by Martin said donations would help cover funeral arrangements and help with the investigation. “Help me get justice for her,” Martin wrote.
Kenneka Jenkins 19, was found inside a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center in Rosemont.