Party Gone Bad

Young woman found dead in freezer after night with friends

Marie Foster, Staff Reporter

Recently, a video surfaced of a 19-year-old teen named Kenneka Jenkins, who was discovered deceased in a freezer, after she attended a party with her friends.

The video is a Facebook Live stream of the party while it was occurring. Her friend can be seen wearing glasses.

Jenkins was celebrating the new nursing home position she received when she left with friends on 11:30 p.m. that Friday night. Five hours later, friends of Jenkins called Tereasa Martin, Jenkins mother, to inform her they were unaware of  where she had went.

“I get a call, at 4:34 in the morning, from my daughter’s friends that she left to go to one of her friends gatherings,” Martin told reporters. Friends of Jenkins say she left her car keys and truck with them when she left.

Martin rushed to Crowne Plaza Hotel where the ‘friend gathering’ was being held on the 9th floor, where she said the hotel staff was being “less than helpful.”

“We were begging for help and no one would help us,” Martin states.

The hotel staff refused to allow Martin and family members to view surveillance footage and even called police on the family for reportedly “disturbing the peace.”

Martin and her older daughter then began knocking door to door in the hotel, searching for Jenkins. When police arrived, they were able to scan over surveillance footage of the hotel. It is said the footage shows Jenkins alone and disoriented as she opens random doors before entering the freezer.

“She was so weak, she was so drunk. His [Police officer] exact words were ‘she was so drunk she couldn’t hold herself up, she was holding on to the wall,” Martin said. This statement provoked outrage in Martin and family because of where Jenkins was found.

Martin says police told her, “Kenneka had staggered inside [the freezer], laid down, and eventually died.”

The Martin family does not believe that is what happened.

“The freezer door is heavy. I worked in a cafeteria before. [There is] no way if she’s drunk. And they [are] saying she’s stumbling so she [does not] have any strength,” Martin’s older daughter states.

Martin believes foul play may be involved.

“I believe, someone in this hotel, killed my child,” said Martin.

Martin believes that if staff at the hotel had helped her sooner, her daughter may still be alive today.

On September 13, a protest for Jenkins was held outside of Crowne Plaza hotel, Martin being involved.  The protesters along with Martin were questioning the responses of the police and hotel.

“I’m trying to save a life, that’s all my purpose is. [The hotel] was too hush hush like they’re used to this. It’ didn’t make sense,” said Martin.

Martin is still struggling to find answers as to how her daughter ended up in a freezer, and why it took such an extensive amount of time to find Jenkins.

Police say they “provided Martin with all of the hotel surveillance video, but it’s not clear whether Martin has seen it yet.”

A community activist, Andrew Holmes, reviewed footage with police and called the whole situation “an accident waiting to happen.”

“She walked into that unsecure area that should have been secured, with locks on there, where she couldn’t get in there. I have been inside the freezer [in the kitchen], and upon looking in the freezer you can open up that door, take a half step up, turn to your left, pull the other door. This door would be closing anyway. The other door, probably when she got in there, closed on her too,” Holmes said.

Holmes says the freezer was not in use at the time, so it would have been extremely dark and hot in the freezer. The medical examiner is awaiting toxicology results which would take a couple weeks.

The Crowne Hotel Plaza has offered to pay for the funeral costs. The Martin family has showed no indication so far of acceptance.

“It was a tragic accident and obviously we are heartfelt with grief with the loss of any young person,” Glenn Harston the second, President of Crowne Plaza Hotel stated.

Rosemont police stress the investigation of 19-year-old Jenkins is ongoing and is their top priority.