Rosemont releases video in teen's freezer death, but family still has questions
Rosemont authorities on Friday released surveillance video of a disoriented Kenneka Jenkins stumbling through a hotel basement, though none of the video shows her walking into the hotel's basement freezer.
The video clips, released by the Rosemont Public Safety Department following Freedom of Information Act requests by the Daily Herald and other media outlets, show Jenkins, 19, of Chicago alone in the basement of the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare Hotel early Saturday, Sept. 9.
The surveillance shows Jenkins getting off an elevator, then trying to find her way through hallways, and eventually finding herself in an empty kitchen. Throughout the video, she is often seeing stumbling into walls, wandering into and out of doorways and, at one point, walking into a staircase. Once in the kitchen, she is soon seen walking off camera.
That was about 3:30 a.m. last Saturday, according to the video time stamp. It was some 21 hours later that she was discovered in the walk-in freezer.
Late Friday, Rosemont police also released a lengthy statement saying that the hotel room where Jenkins earlier attended a birthday party was rented by a man and a woman using a fraudulent credit card obtained through identity theft and was visited by at least 31 people in the course of the evening.
Police said they have interviewed 25 people, including 16 who were in the room, and are still seeking 15 others.
Attorneys for the family said "serious questions" remain about what happened and how police and the hotel handled the initial missing persons report.
"If there's some video that shows her walking into the freezer, I want to see that," said Larry Rogers Jr., a Chicago personal injury attorney whom Jenkins' family has retained. "I've been asking for that for 48 hours. I've only gotten snippets."
Police on Friday released nine video clips showing Jenkins, including earlier video of her with friends walking through hallways and in the front lobby. Authorities also said they would make available to the family -- and anyone else who requests it -- all surveillance videos from the hotel that weekend.
Police told ABC 7 there was no video showing Jenkins entering the freezer.
Village officials also released 911 tapes Friday, including calls from Jenkins' mother, Tereasa Martin, reporting her daughter missing and calls from hotel management to police.
Glenn Harston II, a spokesman for the Crowne Plaza, said the hotel had offered the family the opportunity to view all video recordings -- some 36 hours of surveillance from 40 cameras -- but the hotel had not heard a response.
Rogers said he received that offer Friday afternoon -- an hour before a news conference at his downtown Chicago law firm. He also confirmed that the village's lawyer told him Friday afternoon he could view all the video.
On Thursday, Chicago community activist Andrew Holmes told reporters that video he viewed at the police station shows Jenkins opening the door to the freezer, and there was no one with her on the videos.
But Jenkins' mother said at a protest outside the hotel Thursday night that Holmes didn't represent the family. He initially reached out to the family over the weekend and coordinated interviews on the family's behalf earlier in the week.
On Friday, Rogers said only he and Sam Adam Jr., another Chicago attorney, would be speaking for the family.
Martin, other family members and protesters outside the hotel have questioned whether foul play was involved, and they pressed for quicker answers from authorities.
Rosemont police said they have sent a preservation of evidence order to Facebook and issued two search warrants for Facebook accounts. They've also sent two videos to a private lab for further examination, which could take up to two weeks.
The Cook County medical examiner's office conducted an autopsy last Sunday but has not yet determined an official cause of death, a process that could take weeks.
Martin thanked people for their support at Friday's news conference. But she said, "I also want to know what happened."
As the family begins to make funeral preparations, their attorneys say they plan to conduct an investigation of their own, combing through video recordings and 911 calls and conducting interviews with people who were there.
"She's not found for a day and a half. Her mom is there within hours. And requests to look for the video, requests to look for her -- it wasn't until those were taken serious enough and effort undertaken for a day and a half. That sounds very unreasonable," Rogers said.
• Daily Herald staff writer Kerry Lester contributed to this report.