A 19-year-old Chicago teen was found dead in a suburban hotel freezer early Sunday, NBC reports.
Kenneka Jenkins was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located at 5440 N. River Rd. in Rosemont, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
Jenkins, a resident of the 2100 block of West Warren Boulevard, was last seen leaving her home early Saturday around 11:30 p.m. Friday night. Family members say she was headed to a hotel party and Jenkins’ sister says the teen texted her around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
Her mother, Teresa Martin, was told that her daughter was missing around 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning. She said the family went to the hotel several times in an attempt to look for her. They also contacted police for help, according to Martin.
“These are all precious hours, especially when I went, between 4 and 5 ish,” she said. “Within that time, maybe we could have saved my child’s life.”
After she was reported missing, Crowne Plaza Hotel staff searched the area, officials said. Jenkins’ sister was allowed to view surveillance video. It showed her entering, but never leaving the premises.
“‘We do see your daughter again on this camera,'” police told Martin. “She can barely hold herself up (in the video). She’s like holding onto the rail, walking along the wall.”
During their search, staff members located her in an unused freezer Sunday morning. Officials deemed her to be “beyond resuscitation” and Jenkins was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators told the family that the 19-year-old is believed to have stumbled into an employee lounge and got into an unused freezer. But her family has their doubts.
“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,” her sister Leonore Harris said.
An autopsy was scheduled for Sunday, according to the medical examiner’s office.
An investigation into Jenkin’s death is ongoing.
“I had all the hope in the world that she would just come back,” Harris said. “Maybe there was something wrong, but I asked God, not death. He let me down. He let me down.”
Police have not commented on whether they’ve ruled out foul play in the case.
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