Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Family Attorneys Continue to Seek Justice after Kenneka Jenkins’ death in hotel freezer ruled accident   
By Kimberlee Buck, Staff Writer 
Published October 12, 2017

Kenneka Jenkins (family photo)

After the death of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, who was found dead inside a walk-in hotel freezer at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Chicago, conspiracy theories began to develop claiming Jenkins had been attacked, raped, murdered, or locked inside the hotel freezer by a friend or hotel staff. As a result, national protests began to take-off asking authorities to release surveillance footage of the young adult walking into the freezer and locking herself inside. However, no such footage exists.

Recently, the Cook County medical examiner’s office was able to lay to rest all conspiracy theories after ruling Jenkins’ death as an accident caused by hypothermia. According to the medical examiner’s office, alcohol, and topiramate intoxication, a prescription drug used to treat epilepsy were also listed as contributing factors to her death. However, Jenkins’ family said she was not prescribed topiramate.

Topiramate, can cause dizziness, impaired memory, impaired concentration, poor coordination, confusion and impaired judgement, according to the medical examiner’s office.


Tests conducted by the medical examiner’s office show the teens’ blood alcohol level was 0.112. Jenkins was also tested for “date rape” drugs rohypnol and ketamine. Both tests came back negative.

“There is no evidence, per the police investigation, that Ms. Jenkins was forced to consume the alcohol or the drug,” said the medical examiner’s office. “There is no evidence of another person in the vicinity of the kitchen with the decedent and there is no evidence of an altercation or interaction with another individual in the time immediately prior to demise. There was no other evidence of external or internal trauma due to physical abuse.”

During the investigation, Rosemont Police released a statement saying that they conducted 44 interviews and identified 36 people, who were in the hotel room the night of the party. Of the 36 people identified, police have interviewed 30, but are still looking for the other six.

After the medical examiner’s office released the cause of death, attorneys for the mother of Jenkins, Tereasa Martin, filed an emergency petition to preserve all surveillance recordings taken within the hotel prior to the time Jenkins was found dead. The filing also asks the hotel to provide a schedule of any employees and independent contractors who were at the hotel from September 8 through the 10.

Although no lawsuit has been filed, Martin’s attorneys say that the hotel employees knew that there were underage attendees at the party, that was funded by a stolen credit card. According to the motion, the hotel’s walk-in freezers are equipped with padlock, but not the one Jenkins’ body was found in. Martin’s attorneys go on to say that, although they’ve been provided most of the hotel security footage, no videos from the other two cameras have been given to them; specifically, the one near the upstairs abandoned kitchen and the outside lower level functioning kitchen.

“As we previously assured the family’s attorney, we will preserve all the evidence they requested, including video recordings and documents,” said the Crowne Plaza Hotel in a statement. “In fact, we have already done so.”


Although Jenkins death has been ruled an accident, some questions still remain unanswered. Rosemont Police are still considering the case an “ongoing death investigation.”

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