After 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was mysteriously found dead in a hotel freezer in the Chicago area after being reported missing following a party, attention has fallen on the friends who were at the gathering.
One of those friends, Monifah Shelton, has posted extensively about her friend’s tragic fate on her Facebook page. The intro on Monifah’s page reads, “18 & Living ????✈️?????? Add Me On Snap @Neifa33 Long Live Kewan ????.” Another woman streamed a now viral video from the party to Shelton’s page; it’s been viewed millions of times, and a hashtag in Kenneka’s name has trended on Twitter.
The case has become a “whodunit” mystery on the Web – although police say it’s not yet clear how Kenneka died or whether she met with foul play – and it’s spawned theories and Internet detectives who have carefully dissected the known videos of that night frame-by-frame. Rumors that circulated alleging Shelton committed suicide appear to be false. As to whether Kenneka was murdered? Police have not alleged that, at least not at this point.
Jenkins’ death has been ruled an accident by the coroner. 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.
You can watch the videos from the hotel party here.
The story has taken on an Internet life of its own, with people presenting various theories, but police “have not even said whether a crime has been committed,” The Chicago Tribune pointed out. That’s because the investigation is ongoing, and the medical examiner could not determine a cause of death, with toxicology tests still not completed.
However, on September 15, police released three surveillance videos from the hotel that show Kenneka wandering around the hotel alone, and staggering at times, although they do not show her walking into the freezer. You can watch those videos here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kenneka Jenkins Was Found in a Hotel Freezer Hours After Her Friends Said She Vanished
Kenneka Jenkins, a 19-year-old woman, was found dead inside a walk-in freezer at a hotel in Rosemont, Illinois after she was reported missing following a party there, and her death has become a viral mystery, sending millions of people to view known social media videos in the case.
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.
According to Buzzfeed, Jenkins, who was also known as Kenneka Martin, “was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m. Sunday after her body was discovered in the freezer of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois.”
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:
Two other videos were also released.
Police, reported The Chicago Tribune, “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 Washington Post reported that Kenneka was found inside an industrial walk-in freezer “more than 24 hours after leaving her home on Chicago’s West Side to party with friends at the hotel and conference center near O’Hare International Airport.”
The Chicago Tribune said the last contact Jenkins had with her family was at 1:30 a.m. Saturday by phone. The video on Facebook was streamed six minutes later. Police told her mother that she was seen on a surveillance video “staggering drunk near the front desk,” the newspaper reported. At 4 a.m., her friends called her mother to say she was missing. By 5 a.m., the mother was at the hotel but was told she needed a missing person’s report, and by 1:15 p.m., police began searching for the teen. At 12:25 a.m. Sunday, she was found dead in the walk-in freezer, the Tribune reported. The Tribune added, “Jenkins’ family said they were initially told by police that Jenkins apparently let herself into the freezer while drunk and died inside. But a police spokesman said on Monday that nothing has been ruled out.”
2. Monifah Was Allegedly at the Party That Was Streamed on Facebook Live
Some people have alleged that they can hear Kenneka crying for help in the Facebook Live video. The family believes Kenneka is reflected in the sunglasses of the woman in the video. Another woman is featured in the video, and it was streamed to Monifah’s page.
According to The Washington Post, the video “appears to show Jenkins and others listening to loud music inside a hotel room.” The Post reported that Jenkins’ mother told the news media that Jenkins’ friends told her Jenkins “disappeared after they briefly left her alone in the hotel hallway to retrieve her car keys and cellphone from inside the room.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that 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.” That’s the video with a woman wearing mirrored sunglasses, reported The Tribune, which described it as “a Facebook Live video that appears to show Jenkins sitting on a bed in a hotel room with other people around her.”
“Reflected in her (the woman streaming the video’s) glasses is the other side of the hotel room, where Jenkins appears to be sitting,” the newspaper reported, quoting the police spokesman as saying: “I don’t think anything has been ruled in or ruled out at this point.”
3. Monifah Has Written Extensively About Jenkins on Social Media
On social media, many questions have been raised, some of them posted on the Facebook page of Jenkins’ friend, Shelton. She responded to one post, writing, “Everybody on here talking just pointing fingers just pray she okay and make it home.” Jenkins didn’t make it home.
Shelton has filled her Facebook page with comments about Kenneka. Be aware that the language is graphic at times.
“Come home so I could see yo big ass smile ? idk how to feel right now I’m literally sick to my stomach ? I love u so much ?? & I hate this even happening to you right now I’m over here praying for you baby wherever u at I hope u okay god got you ?? Kenneka Martin,” Monifah wrote on social media.
Shelton wrote on Facebook on September 10: “Everybody Kno our bond was tight ???she was the sweet friend ?I was the mean friend ? Mfs Kno I didn’t play about her & she didn’t play about me ????? I’m so sorry this happen to u u didn’t deserve it u ?? I’m missing tf outta u #Sister4Life.”
She also wrote: “Please come home g this shit so bogus I was drunk not lookin out for u that’s where I fucked up at I should of turn around I should of did something but I thought u was behind me g it’s hurting me bro knowing I didn’t have u like I suppose to had u it’s my fault I’m so sorry g please come home please be safe god please let her be okay Kenneka.”
And, “Can y’all please leave me alone bro we been bestfriend since 3rd grade we did everything together literally everything we use to call ourself the nene twins ??? we slept together ate together broke bread together that was my ace ??it hurting me I never thought I was be doin this we suppose to be takin trips we had shit planned out I’m so sorry g ??♀️ we sisters for life.”
“Please god let her be okay ?? she don’t deserve to be goin thru this ?,” she wrote further. And: “u got me out here finna lose my mind I’m praying ?? so hard kenneka.” And: “Bro I don’t give no fuck what nobody sayin I love u more then anything I will never hurt chu man ?? come home please kenneka I never felt like this before you got me sick I Kno everybody gone talk but it don’t even matter just pop up come home ??god please let her return home safe amen.”
She also wrote: “Bro all us was drunk off our shit I’m not pointing fingers at nobody g this shit hurt so bad to Kno u was just enjoying yourself with ur bestfriend when I haven’t been outside in so long y’all need to shut tf up bro Fr I’m sick of all this shit y’all wanna hear y’all self talking just pray help I been doin all I can to look for her I never would think some shit like this would happen it could of been anyone of us I hate this even happening I hate when even went im trying bro and I will never hide nothing ? just pray ?? I Kno he hear us god we need u right now.”
4. Jenkins’ Cause of Death Is Not Yet Known
However, what is known about Jenkins’ official cause of death? How did she die?
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.
5. Kenneka’s Mother Is Angry at Police & the Hotel
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.
“To me, I feel like they helped kill my child: the police department and this hotel,” Teresa Martin, Jenkins’ mother alleged, according to The Post, which added that an autopsy was inconclusive, and “it remains unclear how Jenkins died.”
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. 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: