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Was Kenneka Jenkins Murdered? Why Her Mom Doesn't Believe Police Explanation Of How The 19-Year-Old Wound Up Dead In A Hotel Freezer

Photo: The Count
Kenneka Jenkins

Kenneka Jenkins, 19, went to a party at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, Sept. 8 with a group of friends. Around 4 a.m., they were leaving the party when Jenkins realized she forgot her phone and car keys. Her friends went to back to the hotel room to retrieve her stuff, leaving Jenkins in the hallway. When they got back, she was gone. 

They called Jenkins' mother, Teresa Martin, and told her they couldn't find her daughter. Martin went to the hotel herself to search around 5 a.m. but came up empty. It wasn't until her third visit to Crowne Plaza that she convinced staff and police to look at surveillance video. 

Police told Martin that the video showed her daughter clutching to a rail as she walked towards a walk-in freezer, where her body was found two days after she went missing. 

The video doesn't show Jenkins actually entering the freezer because the cameras directly above it are broken. 

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Martin told Fox32 that she works with a similar freezer at her job and finds it hard to believe her daughter could open the freezer doors on her own.  

“(Police) said she stumbled her way into the freezer,” Martin said. “If she could barely hold up herself, how could she just yank these double doors?” 

But police say that's what happened. According to Martin, they told her Jenkins let herself into the freezer while she was drunk and died inside. 

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An autopsy on Jenkins' body was performed the same day it was found, and her cause of death is "pending further study."  Martin said it took so long for the search for her daughter to begin because hotel staff required a missing persons report and the police department told her to wait a few hours before filing to see if her daughter would turn up. Jenkins' sister was finally able to file one at 1:15 p.m. Sept. 9. 

The search for the teen went on for 11 hours, with police looking at surveillance video once before and not seeing Jenkins. 

It wasn't until an officer heard that Jenkins' family was knocking on hotel room doors asking for help that they looked at the footage again. 

She was seen around 3:20 a.m. Sept. 9 "staggering" drunk near the front desk. 

According to police, the hotel was under construction in the area where Jenkins' body was found. Martin said she's angry at hotel staff for not immediately looking at the surveillance footage and directing her to police instead. 

"If they had taken me seriously and checked right away, they could have found my daughter much sooner and she might have been alive."

Though police haven't said that foul play was suspected, Martin — and the group of people on social media using the hashtag #JusticeForKenneka — believe she was murdered. 

"I believe someone in this hotel killed my child," she said.

Those social media sleuths are pointing to Irene Roberts, after watching this Facebook live video she posted the night Jenkins went missing. 

In the viral facebook video, which shows Roberts and friends at the party Jenkins allegedly attended, people are reporting that they hear a girl screaming and a guy "forcing himself on a girl." 

People online have theorized that Jenkins was sexually assaulted and injured at the party, an event that they believe led to her death and her body in the freezer. Roberts deleted her Facebook account and Jenkins' other friend, Monifah Shelton, posted that she "didn't have her back," and that Jenkins' "didn't deserve what happened to her."

However, some people believe Shelton set Jenkins up by taking her to that party. Someone also posted a video alleging that Roberts had turned herself in and they saw her in the police station. In the video, you can see a woman, but it's not clear if it's Roberts. 

Police said they're looking into the video above and all other social media videos posted that night, and Jenkins' death is still being investigated. 

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Emily Blackwood is an editor at YourTango who covers pop culture, true crime, dating, relationships and everything in between. Every Wednesday at 10:20 p.m. you can ask her any and all questions about self-love, dating, and relationships LIVE on YourTango’s Facebook page. You can follow her on Instagram (@blackw00d) and Twitter (@emztweetz).