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updated: 9/13/2017 10:20 PM

Rosemont police have difficulty interviewing witnesses in freezer death case

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  • Video: Protesters at Rosemont hotel

  • Kenneka Martin was found dead in a Rosemont hotel freezer after midnight Sunday. She was reported missing about a day earlier.

    Kenneka Martin was found dead in a Rosemont hotel freezer after midnight Sunday. She was reported missing about a day earlier.
    Courtesy of the Martin Family

  • COURTESY OF ABC 7Protesters gathered in Rosemont Wednesday night, blocking traffic as they demonstrated yelling "shut it down" in regards to the hotel where 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was discovered dead in a walk-in freezer over the weekend.

    COURTESY OF ABC 7Protesters gathered in Rosemont Wednesday night, blocking traffic as they demonstrated yelling "shut it down" in regards to the hotel where 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was discovered dead in a walk-in freezer over the weekend.

  • COURTESY OF ABC 7Protesters gathered in Rosemont Wednesday night, blocking traffic as they demonstrated yelling "shut it down" in regards to the hotel where 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was discovered dead in a walk-in freezer over the weekend.

    COURTESY OF ABC 7Protesters gathered in Rosemont Wednesday night, blocking traffic as they demonstrated yelling "shut it down" in regards to the hotel where 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was discovered dead in a walk-in freezer over the weekend.

 
 

Rosemont police said Wednesday they have interviewed a dozen people as part of their investigation into the death of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, who was found dead Sunday in a hotel walk-in freezer.

But police also say they've encountered difficulties interviewing all witnesses, and still want to talk to more people.

Eight of those interviewed attended a party Friday night and early Saturday morning in a ninth-floor room of the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare, some 24 hours before Jenkins was found dead. Police have identified another four people who attended the party, but are still trying to locate and interview them.

Public Safety Department Chief Donald Stephens III said the process is going slow because detectives have had difficulty identifying people. In some cases, Stephens said police know street names of individuals who were at the party, but not their real names. Some potential witnesses have "lawyered up," Stephens said, making the investigation difficult.

Investigators are still examining some 30 hours of video surveillance from 47 hotel cameras, including a video that purports to show Jenkins. Some videos have been sent to forensic technicians for additional analysis. Police said the hotel has been cooperative, providing all video surveillance and access to employee rosters.

Police are also combing through emails, phone records and videos posted to social media for clues, Stephens said.

"We want to turn over every stone and rock and look at every detail," he said.

Jenkins friends reported her missing to her mother Tereasa Martin after 4 a.m. Saturday, after which Martin said she called police. The department officially classified Jenkins as a missing person at 1:16 p.m. Saturday. About 12 hours later, someone found Jenkins' body in an empty but running freezer in an unused area of the hotel.

An autopsy was conducted Sunday, but the Cook County medical examiner's office has not yet determined an official cause of death.

Rosemont police are still calling the case a general "death investigation" -- in which they're not ruling out foul play -- but there are no suspects and no one in custody, Stephens said.

The chief also said detectives have been in contact with Jenkins' mother every day, keeping her appraised of any updates, and that their conversations have been cordial and polite. Martin was initially critical of police, saying Monday they should have been quicker to begin their search for her daughter on Saturday morning.

Police plan to show Martin the hotel video of her daughter as soon as Thursday.

"She's been very helpful and forthcoming," Stephens said of Martin.

On Wednesday night, protesters gathered in front of the hotel on River Road, as they have on previous nights, demanding answers about Jenkins' death. Petitions have also circulated online calling for the hotel's closure.

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