Police Close Case in Teen's Hotel Freezer Death, Release New Photos, Video - NBC Chicago

Police Close Case in Teen's Hotel Freezer Death, Release New Photos, Video

Police said they are "closing the tragic case" of Kenneka Jenkins and classifying it as an accidental death

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    Rosemont police said Friday they are "closing the tragic case" of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, whose her body was found in a suburban hotel freezer last month. Michelle Relerford reports. (Published Friday, Oct. 20, 2017)

    Rosemont police said Friday they are "closing the tragic case" of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, whose her body was found in a suburban hotel freezer last month.

    Police said in a lengthy statement they are classifying Jenkins' death as accidental, noting, "the death of any child is tragic; but the death and circumstances surrounding Ms. Jenkins are especially sad."

    New video and images were released by Rosemont police, along with a timeline of events, beginning with Jenkins leaving her home on Chicago's West Side at 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, and ending with the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office releasing an autopsy report revealing her cause of death as hypothermia and manner of death as accidental.

    Read Rosemont Police full timeline here

    Radio and 911 audio, video of the scene where Jenkins was found, surveillance footage, a FARO scan of the area, and images of Jenkins' body in the freezer were among the pieces released to the public. NBC 5 is not publishing the photos due to their graphic nature.

    "Our detectives reported no signs of foul play throughout the whole investigation," the statement from police notes. "There is no evidence that Ms. Jenkins was forced to drink alcohol or consume any narcotics while at the hotel. The majority of people at the party included close friends and even relatives of Ms. Jenkins."

    Police say "theories, rumors and much speculation floating around social media" regarding the woman's death were all investigated and "none were supported with facts."

    The attorneys for the family of Jenkins said police told the teen’s mother and sister that more information would be released to the public and the family Friday, “with the exception of a few select photographs they wished to share with the family before they were released.”

    Those photos, attorneys said, “are graphic and disturbing images and inexplicably show portions of Kenneka’s body exposed.”

    “The photos shown to [Jenkins’ mother] depict how Kenneka was found after being in a freezer for more than 20 hours,” attorney Sam Adam Jr. said in a statement.

    Attorney Larry Rogers Jr. added the photos "raise more questions about what happened to Kenneka Jenkins than they answer.”

    Jenkins’ death has drawn national attention since she was found in a freezer at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont on Sept. 10. Protesters gathered outside the hotel on multiple occasions in the days since to demand more transparency in the investigation and to call on a federal investigation.

    Jenkins was last seen by her friends at a party on the ninth floor of the hotel in the early hours of Sept. 9 and she was reported missing later that afternoon.

    Surveillance footage from the hotel captured Jenkins’ final moments, showing the teen stumbling through the hotel and into a restricted kitchen area. But the footage does not show how Jenkins ended up in a freezer, where her body was discovered the next day.

    Rosemont police have released nine video clips showing Jenkins walking through the hotel in the hours before her death. She can be seen walking unsteadily through the hotel’s kitchen before disappearing around a corner.

    Jenkins died from hypothermia due to cold exposure in a walk-in freezer and alcohol and topiramate intoxication were “significant contributing factors,” the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said. No sign of any date rape drugs were found after toxicology tests, the office said.

    Jenkins’ family has continued to press for answers on how the teen got into the freezer.

    Adam said numerous requests for all videos and photos showing Jenkins going into the freezer on her own have “not been forthcoming.”

    A series of police reports were released last week in the investigation, but attorney for the Jenkins family said more information was expected to be released by police Friday.

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