The body of a missing 19-year-old Chicago woman was discovered Sunday inside a freezer at a hotel in the city’s suburbs.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office on Sunday said Kenneka Jenkins was pronounced dead at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, after she was found by employees there.
Rosemont police said hotel staff encountered Jenkins’ body inside the hotel’s walk-in freezer, adding that she was last seen at a party at the hotel early Saturday.
The medical office added that Jenkins, who was reported missing Saturday afternoon, has not yet had a cause of death confirmed despite an autopsy having been completed.
Tereasa Martin, who is Jenkins’ mother, on Sunday police told her her daughter seemingly let herself into the freezer while drunk and then died.
“[I’m] horrified,” she told reporters outside the hotel that morning. “It’s something that no one could ever imagine. It’s unbelievable.”
Martin and police said Jenkins left her house in the 2100 block of West Warren Boulevard around 11:30 p.m. local time Friday night.
Gary Mack, a spokesman for the village of Rosemont, said Jenkins’ sister last spoke to her sibling around 1:30 a.m. local time Saturday morning.
Mack added that witnesses at the Crowne Plaza Hotel told police they saw Jenkins at a party on the ninth floor of the building.
“The hotel staff and management [were] actively canvassing the area at that time,” he said of the 11-hour search for Jenkins that included the hotel’s ninth floor and all of its public areas.
Becky Schlikerman, a spokeswoman for the Cook County medical office, said it was not immediately clear whether foul play was suspected in Jenkins’ death.
Martin said her daughter’s friends called her after 4 a.m. local time Saturday to say they had lost trace of Jenkins at the hotel and then left after being incapable of finding her.
The friends also noted they were in the car Martin had left Jenkins for the evening and that they had her cell phone.
Martin said she questioned her daughter’s friends’ accounts, however, noting their “stories changed over and over.”
Jenkins would also have had difficulty opening the heavy walk-in-freezer doors by herself while intoxicated, her mother added.
“Those were double steel doors, she didn’t just pop them open,” Martin said.
“If they had taken me seriously and checked right away, they could have found my daughter much sooner and she might have been alive,” she added of the initial response from Rosemont police.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.