The mystery of Kenneka Jenkins: The 19-year-old's body was found inside a walk-in freezer at a Chicago hotel

The 19-year-old's family, who allege foul play, had sued the hotel for $50 million for negligence in 2018

                            The mystery of Kenneka Jenkins: The 19-year-old's body was found inside a walk-in freezer at a Chicago hotel
(Source: Rosemont Police Department)

Warning: Distressing content

Close to three years after 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was found dead inside a walk-in freezer at a Chicago hotel, an air of mystery continues to shroud her demise.

However, the uncanniness of the incident from 2017 has attracted MTV to now cover Jenkin's death in its long-running 'True Life' franchise. 

Before the teen met her tragic end, Jenkins had been celebrating with friends at a party that took place in Room 926 of the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare Hotel in Rosemont, on September 8, 2017, when her friends began noticing strange behavior.

She appeared to be swaying back and forth, and many (friends) felt she "wasn't acting like her usual self." She was also sad and went to sit down instead of dancing as she normally would, friends said.

Jenkins and her friends decided to leave the party around two hours after their arrival. She also waited as they went back to the room to retrieve her phone and keys. However, by the time they got back, she was gone.

Around an hour later, the friends contacted her mother, Tereasa Martin, who arrived at the hotel at 5:30 am to assist in the search. She knocked on many guests' doors on multiple floors, until eventually, a hotel employee called 911 to complain.

(Source: Rosemont Police Department)

The hotel management denied her (Martin's) request to provide access to the video footage, stating they would only do so after Jenkins was officially reported missing, which happened at 1:15 pm the next day. However, she was eventually discovered 20-hours later, lying face down inside a walk-in freezer within a walk-in cooler as part of an unused kitchen.

A medical examiner ruled out foul play in the death and said Jenkins died accidentally of hypothermia due to cold exposure in the freezer and highlighted her intoxicated state as a significant contributing factor. However, stressing foul-play, Jenkin's family had sued the hotel for $50 million in December last year stating negligence on the hotel's part. 

(Source: Rosemont Police Department)

In the lawsuit, the family questioned why the freezer had been open when the others were kept locked and out of the reach of the public. They said the freezer was unsecured and had "a sticker affixed that was completely faded and failed to instruct how to release the lock system of the door."

However, that claim is unlikely to hold up in court since police investigations revealed that the interior mechanisms to release the door from the handle -- which involved pushing a circular handle to release the hatch -- was working without any problems.

Furthermore, all the evidence indicating her death has been a combination of poor judgment and acute misfortunate. One of her friends had revealed she had seen the teen drinking cognac at the party, a claim that was also corroborated by a toxicology screening that found her blood alcohol level to be above the legal limit for driving.

The medical examiner also found topiramate, a prescription migraine and epilepsy medication in her system, known to cause drowsiness and confusion.

The evidence has not stopped a host of Facebook groups and YouTube personalities from spouting inane theories about her death. One outlandish claim suggests she didn't die from a tragic incident but was the victim of an organ-harvesting ring.

They point towards testimony from friends -- one of whom reportedly had to even flee the city -- who claimed to have received death threats from people who they suspected had somehow harmed Jenkins as proof for their assertions.


However, they seem to have ignored it as it wouldn't have been possible for someone to have harvested her organs as she had no visible injuries on her body except for a small cut on her foot.

Surveillance video from the night also shows the 19-year-old leaving the hotel elevator at around 3:20 am and struggling to maintain balance as she stumbled around the hallways and into the kitchen.

Conspiracy theorists from the internet have even gone as far as to theorize that the person seen in the video was a body double and have tried to dissect the footage to highlight apparent inconsistencies. They say the video doesn't show the exact moment she walked into the freezer.

Her family has similarly remained steadfast in their insistence that their daughter was the victim of a grand conspiracy, with the release of the graphic photos of her body doing nothing to quell their suspicions.

A spokesman for the Crowne Plaza promised the hotel would "vigorously contest" lawsuit and said it has "no merit." They said the "proximate cause of her death was the unsavory individuals who used a stolen credit card to book a room and host an illegal party which Ms. Jenkins attended" and that they had never been held accountable.

MTV's 'True Life Crime' will be an eight-episode docuseries that will cover high-profile murder stories and will be hosted by the award-winning journalist and MTV host Dometi Pongo. It will premiere on January 8, 2020, at 9/8c on MTV and VH1.

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