The mysterious death of 19-year old Kenneka Jenkins became a viral, online sensation within the last few weeks.
When I heard about her death, it personally had me vexed and
perplexed. I am so tired of reading about Black youth dying under suspicious circumstances and the police telling their parents that they caused their own deaths, prior to any formal investigation.
I was immediately reminded of Kendrick Johnson, a Florida teen who was found dead in a wrestling mat at his high school’s gym. The police immediately told his parents he fell in the mat reaching for a shoe, which his parents never believed.
Kenneka Jenkins attended a party with friends Friday, September 8, 2017, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois. Her mother called 911 to report her missing early Saturday morning.
An unnamed hotel employee found Jenkins body September 10 in one of the hotels various walk-in freezers located in the kitchen. It is unclear whether there were signs of trauma. She was described by dispatch as “frozen solid.”
The police told Jenkins mother that her daughter walked into the freezer on her own. None of the footage released by the hotel showed Jenkins walking into the freezer.
The freezer was said to have been in a kitchen that was under construction and unused but the freezer was turned on.
Rosemont Police Department & the Crowne Plaza have since released footage of Jenkins stumbling through hotel hallways disoriented.
The story was first reported by local papers in Chicago and was quickly picked up by Black Twitter & Facebook who believed Jenkins did not walk into the freezer on her own.
This online conversation made Jenkins murder viral.
The conversation was fueled largely by a live video of Jenkins friend streamed the night of the hotel party. The video was viewed millions of times before it was removed from Facebook.
Footage released from the hotel showing Jenkins staggering through hotel hallways highly intoxicated or drugged (who knows at this point) has been ripped to shreds by online commentators. Jenkins autopsy report came back inconclusive.
Many believe the hotel footage was edited by the hotel or police. Others say the woman in the footage was not even Jenkins and the footage was recreated.
There is an interesting aspect to note regarding the hotel footage. According to a press release by Rosemont Police Department:
“The scene of the incident was processed by evidence technicians to include high precision 3D measurement imaging and crime scene analysis. Our detectives also have created video recordings of the scene to include the believed path Kenneka Jenkins took from the hotel room to the freezer, supported by surveillance video,” the Rosemont press release said.
What does “created video recordings” mean?
A total of 25 people were interviewed by police, including eight on Friday, 16 of whom were inside the hotel room during the party, according to a detailed press release from Rosemont police late Friday. Police believe at least 31 people were in the room that night and are still trying to locate 15 of them, working with Chicago police to do so.
Many are genuinely outraged and traveled from different states to protest in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel with Jenkin’s mother. Many have children who are girls and have stated that they cannot sleep after hearing what happened to Jenkins.
Even the protest, however, have created mayhem and misunderstanding, causing Jenkins mother calling off protest due to what she called personal agendas by protest organizers.
Rosemont, where Crowne Plaza Hotel is located, is a 40-minute drive from Chicago in a small town with a little over 4,000 people.
The current mayor is Brad Stephens and his father Donald Bradley was Rosemont’s mayor for more than 50 years and established the village as an economic powerhouse with a convention center, stadium, hotels, and restaurants next to O’Hare International Airport.
Several other family members are on the village payroll: Brad Stephens’ nephew Chris Stephens earns $250,000 as head of the convention center, and Donald Stephens III, another nephew of the current mayor, makes $180,000 as head of the police and fire departments.
Today Jenkins was laid to rest at the Salem Baptist Church in Chicago. The two and a half hour service was attended by over 1,000 people, some who traveled from other states.
I do not understand how you accompany your friend to a party, who is the DD and you leave her in the hallway by herself knowing she was wasted. My grandmother always told me and my cousins that if we left the house with each other, we returned together. It is sad what has happened to Jenkins. There are so many questions that I hope her mother finds answers to.
Rest in Peace Kenneka Jenkins.