The body of a missing 19-year-old has been found inside a walk-in freezer at a hotel in a Chicago suburb.
Kenneka Jenkins went out on Friday night to a party at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois.
Early on Sunday morning, hotel staff found the teenager – who was out to celebrate her new job at a nursing home – dead in the freezer.
The Cook County medical examiner has scheduled a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death.
Ms Jenkins’ mother says she suspects foul play.
Tereasa Martin told WGN, a Chicago TV news station, that Ms Jenkins’ friends called her in the early hours of Saturday to tell her she was missing.
Ms Martin said she went to the hotel and asked staff to check surveillance video, but was referred to police.
Emergency dispatchers, she said, told her to wait a few more hours in case the Chicago teenager was still out with friends.
Ms Martin said she and her other daughter went searching for Ms Jenkins.
The family filed a missing person’s report on Saturday afternoon.
Rosemont police said after that report was filed, hotel staff “actively canvassed and searched the immediate area”.
Ms Martin said police told her her daughter was “staggering” drunk at the time.
But the grieving mother said she doubts her daughter would have allowed herself to become trapped in a walk-in freezer, no matter how intoxicated she was.
“I believe someone in this hotel killed my child,” Ms Martin told WGN.
The unused freezer was reportedly located in a part of the hotel where a new restaurant was under construction.
Crowne Plaza Hotel said in a statement: “We are saddened by this news, and our thoughts are with the young woman and her family during this difficult time.”
While some people claimed Jenkins’ friends sold her for money, others said the teen’s companions weren’t trustworthy. Some of their messages have been posted below:
This Kenneka Jenkins story makes me sick to my stomach, what kind of friends set you up for $200 ?!! ___
— Lay. (@Lay_inTheClouds) September 11, 2017
The Kenneka Jenkins story is so messed up… Her “friends” set her up _
— B. Fitz S (@_BFITZ) September 11, 2017
19yr old girl Kenneka Jenkins was set up by her friends to be raped and murdered for $200. They put her body in a hotel freezer
— Ariel Gooden (@ArielGooden) September 11, 2017
#JusticeForKenneka RIP Kenneka Jenkins, this is why I barely have friends now. You never know what people are planning to do you.
— Shania Shannon (@shaniashannon_) September 11, 2017
R.I.P to the 19 year old teen (Kenneka Jenkins) in Chicago who was set up by her friends___ pic.twitter.com/9P9LG0qc1y
— Supa Crank It™ (@SupaCrankIt) September 11, 2017
This Kenneka Jenkins story is wild. Everyone involved sick and needa be put under the jail. Watch who you call friends. #RIPKenneka
— #STARTAPE OUT NOW _ (@zayheath) September 11, 2017
This Kenneka Jenkins story got me 98 hot. This is why I have limited friends. This is why I’m antisocial. Like that shit is wild.
— DAIJ DADDY _✨ (@DAI_MILADI) September 11, 2017
Another thing people on the internet did was identify the alleged assailant. International Business Times is leaving the person’s name out of the article as not ostracize a potentially innocent person.
Still, the messages users spread about the supposed attacker seemed damning.
Jenkins can reportedly be heard saying, “help me,” in a video that was supposedly filmed during Jenkins’ alleged rape. A different clip, which was seemingly recorded by the same person, reportedly caught a male saying, “We’re about to murder somebody.”
Jenkins mother, Tereasa Martin, said she did not believe her daughter walked into the freezer because she was intoxicated.
Jenkins’ friends called Martin at 4 a.m. Saturday, saying they didn’t know where she was. They told police they left a party with Jenkins. She apparently forgot her phone, so they turned back to get and it and left her alone in the hallway. When they returned, Jenkins apparently vanished.
Martin rushed to the hotel and arrived at 5 a.m. She wanted police to start searching for her daughter then, but they the Rosemont Police Department said they had to wait several hours before they started her search because they said she might show up.
They didn’t start to look for Jenkins until her older sister, Leona Harris, filed the report. The official search started at at 1:15 p.m. Martin wasn’t informed about her daughter’s death until 12 hours later.
If police started to look for her daughter when she first went missing, she might still be alive. “If [police] had taken me seriously and checked right away, they could have found my daughter much sooner,” Martin told The Chicago Tribune Monday. “And she might have been alive.”
Martin started a GoFundMe account for her daughter’s investigation and funeral. “This is a page set up for Kenneka Jenkins to help get justice for my baby girl,” she wrote. “As many of you may know, On Sunday morning, Neka was found dead in a walk in freezer at Crowne Point Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois. We believe there is more to the story. Since this is still under investigation, there isn’t much I can say. The donations will cover funeral cost arrangements, also to help with the investigation. Anything helps. Help me get justice for her! God Bless.”
Rosemont Police wasn’t bothered by Martin’s criticism.
“Anyone can understand how a parent can feel distraught over the loss of a child and feel the need to lash out due to the tremendous pain they’re feeling, and we certainly understand that,” Gary Mack, a spokesman for the village of Rosemont, told the Chicago Tribune. “But people can rest assured Rosemont is one of the top, highest trained, most respected police departments in the state of Illinois and does a good job at what they do.”