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  • Writer's pictureVolume 82 Magazine

The Family of Kenneka Jenkins Awarded Settlement After Her Mysterious Death in Hotel Freezer

Kenneka Jenkins. Photo/Facebook

In September 2017, social media exploded after Kenneka Jenkins, 19, was mysteriously found dead in Rosemont, Illinois, in the Crowne Plaza Hotel's walk-in freezer after visiting the hotel with friends for a party. She attended the party on the 8th, and her body was reportedly discovered on the 10th. The 19-year-old's friends alleged she left the hotel room they partied in alone, and they were unable to find her for the rest of the night. Surveillance cameras revealed the teen walking throughout the building, getting on an elevator, and even entering the kitchen area. Yet, the Crowne Plaza said there was no footage of Kenneka walking into the freezer where her body was found.

Security footage from the Rosemont Police Department

Despite the eventual ruling that no foul play was involved in her demise, the crime scene photos suggested otherwise. The images showed that Jenkins lost one shoe. Her shoeless foot had blood and a scratch. According to Newsweek, her hair was wet and matted, and her pants were dirty. Crime scene photos also show the teen's breasts were exposed and her pants appeared to have been pulled down. Yet, local authorities determined she died from hypothermia as a result of being in the freezer.

Kenneka Jenkins on the night of her mysterious death. Photo/Facebook.

Kenneka's mother, Teresa Martin, is convinced that the truth of her daughter's death is being withheld. She explained to Chicago's WGCI podcast that she received conflicting stories from her daughter's friends, who were in possession of her cell phone and car keys when she went missing. Teresa said law enforcement informed her they didn't take fingerprints at the death site—quickly ruling the death an accident without conducting a thorough investigation, then closed the case. Kenneka's mother told the Chicago Tribune, "I want to see her actually walking into this freezer and closing herself within this freezer and freezing to death." Newsweek said the Rosemont police interviewed a total of 25 people concerning Jenkins's death, including 16 who were in the room where the party was held, yet, Martin said she and her family had a lack of assistance from the hotel and the Rosemont Police Department; she said both parties initially refused to search the premises for her daughter or review the security cameras for her whereabouts. Martin said a hotel employee found Kenneka's body a day later.

Teresa Martin. Photo/Chicago Tribune

The narrative that Martin was given by authorities (Kenneka walked into the freezer, closed the door, and froze to death) never sat well with her mother. As a food service worker, Teresa was knowledgeable about walk-in freezers; she told WGCI," I asked them, I said, could I see the freezer, because I work in a cafeteria. So you can't tell me that she walked in this freezer and couldn't get out!... Every freezer has a release button or some type of handle where you can't get locked in, unless you get locked in from the outside."

The following year, in 2018, Kenneka's mother sued the hotel for $50 million, which was settled in October 2023. According to CBS News, the family settled the suit for an undisclosed amount with the Crowne Plaza, its security company, and its restaurant. According to Black Enterprise, "The suit alleged staff failed to monitor security cameras that would send an alert of Jenkin's location and possibly prevent her death. The lack of answers regarding her death made headlines and prompted protests around the country, but her family was left wondering if it was foul play or the police mishandling the case."

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1 comment

1 Comment

Natalie Montgomery
Dec 07, 2023

Good! I hope that she haunts everyone of them.

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