The death of Kenneka Jenkins in a Chicago hotel freezer has spawned Internet theories about how she died, and videos of a hotel party that night have had millions of views. You can watch the videos here.
However, what is known about Jenkins’ official cause of death? How did she die?
On October 7, the coroner said that Jenkins’ death was an accident.
Her cause of death was hypothermia and “cold exposure in a walk-in freezer” and “ethanol and topiramate intoxication,” the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said, according to CNN.
Medical examiner’s officials told the news media that an autopsy has been conducted on the 19-year-old, but, as of September 12, the cause of death was inclusive. “An autopsy Sunday afternoon failed to determine a cause of death, and the medical examiner’s office said it was awaiting toxicology tests and further investigation by police,” The Chicago Tribune reported, quoting a Rosemont, Illinois police spokesman as saying, “I don’t think anything has been ruled in or ruled out at this point.”
Police consider the case a “death investigation” right now, and they are interviewing people who at the party to gather more information, reported the newspaper. “Police told Martin that her daughter was inebriated and likely stumbled into the freezer, which was not being used to store food, on her own,” The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. Police, though, have not publicly said how they think Kenneka died.
After an activist claimed police had given the family video showing Kenneka wandering into the freezer on her own, the family disputed they had been given such a video, and this video was released:
Police released a lengthy new statement on September 13 that gave some details on the scope of the investigation: They’re reviewing footage from 47 hotel videos, conducting forensic analysis on other videos, and they’ve located and interviewed 12 people and are seeking more.
Kenneka’s mother has angrily spoken out against police and the hotel and said that her daughter’s initial disappearance was not taken seriously enough. The family suspects foul play.
According to CBS News, Kenneka’s “family said she went to a party at the hotel with friends late Friday night, but then went missing. They said her friends called around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday morning to say they couldn’t find her, but had her cellphone and truck keys.”
CBS reported that it took hotel staff 11 hours to find Kenneka dead in a freezer. “Police told them she might have been trapped in the freezer by accident — but the Jenkins’ family disputes this,” CBS reported.
According to The Chicago Tribune, police are “reviewing video on social media that appears to show the victim in a ninth-floor room hours before she disappeared over the weekend.”
Police “have yet to say how 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins died or why she was in a freezer in a vacant area of the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center,” The Tribune reported. USA Today reported that Kenneka’s mother Teresa Martin “said that if her daughter was drunk, she would have had difficulty opening the heavy freezer doors and would’ve realized she wasn’t entering an elevator or the hotel entrance.”
Many people on the Internet also have alleged that Jenkins met with foul play. Internet sleuths have painstakingly dissected videos of the party, and some believe they can hear Kenneka crying for help in a Facebook Live video streamed by another woman at the party (although police have not confirmed this, and the video is hard to hear.) The family believes Kenneka can be seen reflected in the sunglasses of a woman streaming one of the videos, which you can see in the link below.
Read more about Kenneka Jenkins here: