Police conduct new interviews, dig through security footage in Chicago teen found dead in freezer

Amid mounting pressure from protesters, police released new information about their investigation into the mysterious death of a Chicago teenager who was found dead in a hotel freezer last week.

The Rosemont Police Department said Wednesday evening that it has located and interviewed 12 people in connection with the case of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, whose body was discovered in a freezer at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Rosemont, Illinois on Sunday morning after she attended a party there. It remains unclear how Jenkins died.

“Eight of those people interviewed were present the night/morning of the hotel gathering,” the department said in a statement. “Additionally, we have positively identified four others who were present the night of the gathering and are working to locate and interview them.”

Investigators are also analyzing social media content and surveillance footage from 47 cameras at the hotel, the department said, adding that it had sent “certain videos related to this investigation” to specialized forensic technicians for further analysis.

Separately, the department told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday that Jenkins’ mother, Tereasa Martin, would be shown the security footage by Thursday afternoon.

The department’s statement came as more than 100 protesters gathered near the hotel, some chanting and carrying signs that read “Justice for Kenneka.”

“Our concern is that it was possibly foul play. I think that’s what everybody’s concern is, that there was a possible cover-up of her death,” activist William Calloway told ABC Chicago station WLS on Wednesday.

A viral Facebook Live video, shared by Jenkins’ friend just hours before she died, has fueled conspiracy theories about how she may have died. Martin has said she suspects foul play.

Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens called the young woman’s death a “tragedy” on Wednesday and said speculation about the case was “convoluting” the investigations, according to WLS.

“It’s unfortunate a lot of the social media posts that are going on and the rhetoric that’s going on and that is sort of convoluting things and making things a little more difficult,” Stephens said while speaking at an economic meeting on Wednesday.

“Because they have to go and follow all those leads at the same time as they’re trying to get to the bottom of this,” he added.

Jenkins’ body was discovered in an industrial size walk-in freezer in the basement of the hotel, according to Martin. She said that police, who had access to surveillance video, told her that Jenkins was intoxicated when she walked into the freezer and died there.

An autopsy performed on Sunday came back inconclusive, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday, and officials say it could take weeks before toxicology results are available.

Martin said her daughter’s friends called her at around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, saying Jenkins disappeared after they briefly left her alone in a hotel hallway.

The friends said they were in the car Martin had loaned her daughter for the night, Martin said. They had Jenkins’ cell phone and keys in their possession, according to Martin, who said she isn’t convinced because their “stories changed over and over.”

The Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel and Conference Center has directed questions about the case to the Rosemont Police Department.

“We are saddened by this news, and our thoughts are with the young woman and her family during this difficult time,” the hotel said in a statement. “The hotel staff will continue to cooperate fully with local authorities.”

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