Kenneka Jenkins video shows her staggering through kitchen, not entering freezer – Chicago Tribune
Video clips released by Rosemont police Friday depict Kenneka Jenkins staggering alone through a deserted kitchen of the Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel, but they do not show her entering the walk-in freezer in which her body was found.
Village officials said they released footage that shows Jenkins for a total of a few minutes spread over nine clips. Authorities said they would also release another 36 hours of hotel surveillance video from that weekend.
The videos add fresh mystery to a case already rife with ambiguity. Larry Rogers Jr. and Sam Adam Jr., attorneys for Jenkins’ mother, said at a press conference Friday afternoon that they will conduct their own investigation and perhaps seek a second autopsy.
“There is 36 hours of tape that (the hotel) never looked for,” Adam said. “They never checked. They never searched, they never did anything while a young, 19-year-old disoriented girl was sitting in their freezer.
“Now there has to be an answer to how that happened. Better yet, there has to be an answer to why that happened.”
In a statement released earlier Friday, Rogers said: “Despite requests for all evidence, we have received only snippets of video, none of which shows Kenneka Jenkins walking into a freezer. The family has not been provided any video or other evidence of Kenneka Jenkins walking into a freezer.
“Serious questions remain as to how she ended up in a Crowne Plaza Hotel freezer and why it took a day and a half for the hotel to find Kenneka.”
Jenkins, from the West Side of Chicago, was found in the freezer early Sunday morning after disappearing from a party in a room at the hotel. Police have said they are treating the case as a death investigation, not a homicide probe.
Her death has become the focus of fevered online conjecture, with thousands of people using Facebook videos evidently taken at the hotel room party to spin theories about what happened. Many contend Jenkins was murdered.
On Thursday, a Chicago community activist tried to put an end to the speculation, saying he watched the surveillance video and it showed Jenkins entering the freezer alone.
After the family released its statement Friday, activist Andrew Holmes said he was sticking to his statements. “My point was — and I’m going to stand by it — I didn’t see anyone downstairs behind her,” he said. “I didn’t see anyone in front of her. I didn’t see anyone trying to force her back there. That’s my point and I’ll stick to it.”
A spokesman for the Rosemont police did not immediately respond to a request to clarify the confusion.
Authorities say Jenkins went to a party at the Crowne Plaza on Friday night, and that she disappeared early Saturday morning. Her mother, Tereasa Martin, came to look for her but said hotel staff and Rosemont police declined to search for hours.
Jenkins was finally found in the walk-in freezer and pronounced dead just before 1 a.m. Sunday. The medical examiner’s office has performed an autopsy but has said more tests are needed before it can pronounce a cause of death — a finding that could be weeks away.
Police have said they have released hotel surveillance footage to the family, but did not say how much. A spokesman for the hotel said it has offered to let the family review 36 hours of video.
Holmes, who has worked with many police agencies during his years of anti-violence activism, said he was shown video of Jenkins waiting in the hotel lobby after her friends apparently went up to the room where they had been partying to retrieve some possessions.
Jenkins then takes the elevator to a lower level and wanders around, opening doors in an apparently disoriented manner, he said. Finally, he said, Jenkins opens two doors in a kitchen area and enters the walk-in freezer. The doors close behind her and Jenkins is seen no more, he said.
Holmes said he was convinced no one else forced Jenkins into the area where she died. “The important part is we all wanted to know: Did anybody call her down there?” he said. “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.”
Rosemont police spokesman Det. Joe Balogh did not answer directly when asked whether Holmes had been shown the video. But he expressed appreciation for Holmes’ assistance “on behalf of the family and community pursuant to this investigation.”
Later Thursday, at a protest outside the Crowne Plaza, Jenkins’ mother said she felt misrepresented by Holmes and other activists.