Rosemont police confirmed Monday they are aware of a Facebook video posted the night a Chicago teenager disappeared and was later found dead in a hotel freezer.
Detectives are looking at the video and other social media posts as they try to piece together the death of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, police said. Jenkins was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located at 5440 N. River Rd., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
Family held a press conference Monday along with community activist Andrew Holmes. Tereasa Martin, Kenneka's mother, said she believed her daughter's death was an "inside job" and questioned a Facebook video posted from the hotel the night Kenneka died. She said one of her daughter's "good friends" is seen in the video.
“I have an idea that something might have happened,” she said. “I believe it was foul play involved.”
Holmes described the video police said they have come across during the course of their investigation.
“You can see some images in the other young lady’s glasses and you can also hear some of the background that’s in there,” he said. “And the young lady with the glasses, she needs to come forward too, cause everyone in there is a suspect—it’s just as a simple as that.”
Authorities are conducting a death investigation and are in the process of scanning surveillance videos as well as interviewing everyone who was at the hotel that night, Rosemont police said.
Jenkins, of the 2100 block of West Warren Boulevard, was last seen leaving her home on Chicago’s West Side at around 11:30 p.m. Friday night, the Rosemont Public Safety Department said Sunday in a release.
She was headed to the hotel for a party, Jenkins’ sister Leonore Harris told authorities while filing a missing person complaint Saturday afternoon.
Harris said the two last spoke via text message around 1:30 a.m. early Saturday, according to police, who said she filed the official report about 12 hours later.
Witnesses told authorities that Jenkins was seen at a party on the hotel’s ninth floor that evening into early Saturday.
Martin said she was told her daughter was missing around 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Her family went to the hotel several times trying to look for her, Martin said, and called police for help.
"These are all precious hours, especially when I went between four-ish and five-ish," she said. "Within that time, maybe we could have saved my child's life."
After she was reported missing, Crowne Plaza Hotel staff and management canvassed and searched the area, authorities said. Harris said investigators allowed her to watch surveillance video, which showed the teen entering, but never leaving, the hotel.
"'We do see your daughter again on this camera,'" Martin said police told her. "'At this point, she can barely hold herself up. She's like holding onto the rail, walking along the wall.'"
While searching the hotel, staff found Jenkins in a freezer at around 12:24 a.m. Sunday. She was "beyond resuscitation," according to officials, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators told the family they believed the 19-year-old stumbled into an employee lounge and got into the freezer that was on, but unused.
“We are saddened by this news, and our thoughts are with the young woman and her family during this difficult time,” the hotel said in a statement. “The hotel staff will continue to cooperate fully with local authorities. All further questions should be directed to the Rosemont Police Department.”
Jenkins' family said they have their doubts about what happened, and that they're most upset because they tried to find her shortly after she disappeared - but were unable to until it was too late.
"If it weren't for us studying, pushing to find out what happened, my sister's life would still be in that freezer right now," Harris said.
"I had all the hope in the world that she would just come back," she added. "Maybe there was something wrong, but I asked God, not death. He let me down. He let me down."
An autopsy conducted Sunday ruled that Jenkins' cause of death was pending further studies, according to the medical examiner’s office, and an investigation into Jenkins’ death remained ongoing. Police have not said whether they have ruled out foul play in the case.
Police said they anticipate releasing more information over the next several days.
Meanwhile, Jenkins' family and Holmes pleaded with anyone who was in the hotel room that night to come forward with information.
“Best friend, no friend, you’re a suspect, you was in there, just come forward,” Holmes said. “You was happy enough to put yourself on Facebook, now be happy enough to come over here and tell these detectives what happened.”