The mother of Kenneka Jenkins questions whether the 19-year-old had the strength to open the heavy door of a walk-in freezer where she was found dead Sunday at a Rosemont hotel.
"She could barely hold herself up," Tereasa Martin said, referring to a hotel surveillance video on which police told her the teen appeared to be drunk. "She needed a wall for support. How did she find the strength to unlock both of the double doors?"
Martin, who lives on Chicago's West Side, said she works at a cafeteria that uses "double-deep freezers" similar to the one at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare in Rosemont where Jenkins died.
Witnesses last saw Jenkins at a party on the ninth floor of the hotel that stretched from Friday night into Saturday morning. She texted her sister at 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
Jenkins' friends, who had her cellphone, reported her disappearance to Jenkins' mother after 4 a.m. Saturday. Martin said she called police soon after.
The Rosemont Police Department entered Jenkins into LEADS, the Law Enforcement Automated Data Systems, as a missing person at 1:16 p.m. Saturday, about nine hours after her friends reported her disappearance.
Another 12 hours passed before somebody, as yet unidentified, discovered Jenkins' body in an empty but operative freezer. She was pronounced dead at the scene shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday, the Cook County medical examiner's office reported.
Martin said a quicker search would have made a crucial difference.
"I know it for a fact," Martin said.
Martin and her fiance, James Lemont Coleman, spoke to Chicago news media Monday in the parking lot of the Rosemont Theatre, across the street from the Crowne Plaza.
"I know for a fact that she would have survived if they had gotten on it sooner," Martin said.
A spokesman for the Rosemont Police Department Monday declined to comment other than to say the investigation into Jenkins' death is continuing.
Exactly how and when Jenkins died have yet to be determined. A spokeswoman for the Cook County medical examiner's office Monday said that it will "a few weeks" before the cause of death can be determined and that cases like this typically take a long time to reach a conclusion.
Martin said she was aware police are looking into a video posted on Facebook featuring a woman in sunglasses talking directly into the camera lens. The video purports to have Jenkins in the room with other people.
"There's more to it," Martin said. "Somebody's got to know something. Everybody's there but my daughter. I don't see her."
Asked if she had anything to say to the investigators, Martin said yes.
"My message to the police is, what happened to my daughter? Help me find out what happened to my child."