On Thursday, a community activist in Chicago told the Chicago Tribune that fellow activist Kenneka Jenkins entered a walk-in freezer by herself and was not forced inside. Jenkins, 19, was found dead in a freezer in the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Sunday, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death led some to speculate that she may have been murdered. However, Andrew Holmes told the Tribune on Thursday that local police showed him surveillance footage from the hotel, and that it shows Jenkins walking into the freezer of her own accord.
"The important part is we all wanted to know: Did anybody call her down there?" Holmes told the Tribune. "Did anybody force her down there? Was there anybody on the other side of the room when she got down there? And the answer to that is no."
According to her mother, Jenkins left her home Friday night to attend a party at the hotel with friends. She went missing Saturday morning, and around 24 hours later, her body was found in a walk-in freezer in the hotel. Although an autopsy has been performed, the Cook County medical examiner hasn't yet given a cause of death. Additionally, authorities have not released the surveillance footage of Jenkins in the hotel to the public — although they have given a copy to Jenkins' mother, ABC 7 reports.
According to Holmes, Rosemont police showed him surveillance footage that shows Jenkins waiting in the lobby of the hotel after her friends had allegedly gone upstairs to their room. The video then shows Jenkins taking an elevator downstairs and opening doors in a "disoriented" manner, Holmes claimed, before entering a kitchen and walking into a walk-in freezer. The footage didn't show anybody compelling Jenkins to enter the freezer, Holmes said, and the doors closed behind her after she entered.
Rosemont police didn't directly confirm that they had indeed showed Holmes the video, but spokesman Det. Joe Balogh did tell the Tribune that the department appreciated Holmes' help "on behalf of the family and community pursuant to this investigation."
Jenkins' mother, Teresa Martin, says that Jenkins' friends called her after 4 a.m. Saturday to tell her that they'd lost track of Jenkins. Martin arrived at the hotel less than an hour later to search for her daughter, but says that hotel staff said they needed a missing persons report before they could review surveillance footage. When she attempted to fill out such a report, she says, Rosemont police told to wait a few hours to see if Jenkins turned up on her own. Martin eventually began searching on her own before being joined by police, she says.
In a press release, Rosemont police said they've interviewed 12 people who were "involved in some way" with the case, although they didn't identify any of those individuals.
“Our detectives are working around the clock to identify, locate, and interview all persons who were involved,” the Rosemont Police Department said. “Additionally, certain videos related to this investigation have been sent to specialized forensic technicians for further analysis.”
Police are also investigating a Facebook Live video that was posted early Saturday morning and has since gone viral. It shows a woman with silver glasses speaking into the camera in what appears to be a hotel room, and some believe that Jenkins' reflection can be seen in the glasses. The video has been viewed over 5 million times, and amateur sleuths have combed over the footage in search for clues about Jenkins' death.
A spokesperson for the Crowne Plaza said Thursday that the hotel will pay for the costs of Jenkins' funeral.