Police Close Case of Teen Who Died in Freezer, Release Timeline of Events

Kenneka Jenkins

Police previously said the teen died of hypothermia.

Police in Chicago have closed the investigation into the death of the 19-year-old who was found dead in a hotel freezer in September. 

On Friday, authorities ruled Kenneka Jenkins’ death accidental and released photos, surveillance videos, audiotapes, and a timeline of events leading up to the teen's death.

Jenkins was last seen in the early hours of Sept. 9 at a party on the ninth floor of the Crown Plaza Hotel and was reported missing that afternoon, according to Rosemont police. Police found her body inside the hotel's freezer shortly after midnight on Sept. 10.

Authorities previously said the teen died of hypothermia due to cold exposure in the walk-in freezer. They also noted that alcohol intoxication and the use of a drug for treating epilepsy and migraines were also "significant contributing factors.”

"The death of any child is tragic; but the death and circumstances surrounding Ms. Jenkins are especially sad," the police chief said.

Hotel surveillance video that was previously released showed the 19-year-old stumbling through the hallways of the hotel and eventually into the kitchen, but never show her walking into the freezer as there was no camera pointing toward that direction, police said. 

Authorities have now released an entire timeline of what they believe happened leading up to Jenkins’ death. After leaving her home  on the west side of Chicago at 11:30 p.m. on September 8, Jenkins showed up to the hotel party in Rosemont.

Saturday, September 9 

  • 1:13 A.M - The 19-year-old arrives at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont  to attend a private party in a hotel room
  • 3:25 A.M. - Jenkins is seen on CCTV exiting a lower level elevator.
  • 3:32 A.M. -  Jenkins is last seen on CCTV as she moves through a 1st floor kitchen.
  • 7:14 A.M. - Rosemont Public Safety receives a call from Teresa Martin (Jenkins’ mother) saying that she can’t find her daughter.
  • 12:46 P.M - Jenkins’ sister arrives at the Rosemont police station to file a Missing Persons report and the teen is entered into the database. At this time, officers respond to the Crowne Plaza Hotel to investigate the missing
  • person. Initial information obtained and searches conducted within the Crowne Plaza hotel did not indicate whether or not Jenkins left the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
  • 8:29 P.M. - Officers respond back to the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Further searches are conducted as more CCTV is reviewed. Searches of the Crowne Plaza Hotel continued throughout the night. More resources were deployed to search the hotel as additional information was obtained through the CCTV.

Sunday, September 10

  • 12:25 A.M. - Jenkins’ body is discovered by a Crowne Plaza Hotel employee. Ms. Jenkins was pronounced dead at the scene by a Resurrection Hospital doctor via Medical Control.
  • 3:08 A.M. - The Cook County Medical Examiner Investigator arrives.
  • 5:10 A.M. - Jenkins’ body is removed from the Crowne Plaza Hotel and transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office. Jenkins’ mother and sister are able to view the body of Kenneka Jenkins prior to being removed.

The teen’s death initially sparked rumors and conspiracies of foul play, but police have said in their report that there is “no evidence" suggesting that the death was not accidental.“While there were many theories, rumors and much speculation floating around social media regarding the death of Ms. Jenkins, none were supported with facts. While all leads and theories were investigated by our department, what we have reported throughout the investigation and again, today, are facts,” the report said. 

Lawyers for the teen’s mother said graphic photos that police released on Friday of the teen lying face down in the freezer, covered in dirt, and without a shoe, “raise more questions than answers.”

Police released several post-mortem photos of the teen inside of the freezer, which were shown to the family beforehand, reports said. 

Sam Adam Jr., an attorney for Martins, called the photos disturbing images that “inexplicably show portions of Kenneka’s body exposed.” Martins’ other attorney, Larry Rogers Jr., said the photos were “of a personal, private and indecent nature.”