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What we still don’t know about Kenneka Jenkins’ death — despite what you see on social media

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/media/94572357-132.html

Nearly three days after Kenneka Jenkins was found dead inside a walk-in freezer in a Rosemont hotel, police have said very little about what happened to the 19-year-old.

No cause of death has been released and police won’t say if there were signs of trauma on her body when it was discovered early Sunday morning at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Yet that has not kept thousands and thousands of online commenters from accusing and making threats against people they think set Jenkins up and then attacked her. “The day of punishment will come,” one person posted, though police have not even said whether a crime has been committed.

Much of the speculation is based on a livestream video that was apparently broadcast from a hotel room shortly before Jenkins disappeared. The video — which has gotten more than 4 million views — features a woman in mirrored sunglasses talking to the camera. Reflected in her glasses is the other side of the room, where Jenkins appears to be sitting.

The video has been shared more than 53,000 times and has drawn nearly 35,000 comments. Some viewers claim to hear her cry for help, others hear someone say she is being attacked.

But words are often garbled or obscured by music or other people talking. The images reflected in the woman’s sunglasses appear clear at times, but it’s still hard to tell what exactly Jenkins is doing.

Investigators say they have been reviewing the Facebook video as well as surveillance video, and have been talking with people who were in the room. But they have said very little so far about what they have found.

Here is a timeline of events that unfolded over the weekend at the hotel, as disclosed by family and police, followed by what we do not know about the case.

Timeline

• 11:30 p.m. Friday. Kenneka Jenkins leaves her West Side home to go to a party with friends in a hotel room at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center in Rosemont, according to her mother, Tereasa Martin.

• 1:30 a.m. Saturday. Jenkins’ sister speaks to Jenkins by phone. The family says that’s the last time they hear from her.

• 1:36 a.m. Saturday. A livestream video on Facebook appears to show the hotel room on the ninth floor where the party is being held. The video — which has gotten more than 4 million views — features a woman in mirrored sunglasses talking to the camera. Reflected in her glasses is the other side of the hotel room, where Jenkins appears to be sitting.

• 3:20 a.m. Saturday. Jenkins is seen on surveillance video “staggering” drunk near the front desk, authorities tell Martin.

• 4 a.m. Saturday. Jenkins’ friends call her mother to say they lost track of Jenkins at the hotel. The friends say they are in the car Martin lent her daughter for the night, and they have Jenkins’ cellphone, according to Martin.

• 5 a.m. Saturday. Jenkins’ family go to the hotel looking for her. Martin says hotel staff told her they needed a missing persons report from police before they could start reviewing surveillance video. Martin calls Rosemont police and is told to wait a few hours before filing the report. They file the report later that morning.

• 1:15 p.m. Saturday. Police notify the hotel about the missing teen and a search begins on the ninth floor and the public areas of the hotel, according to Rosemont police.

• 3-4 p.m. Saturday. Jenkins’ mother said she doesn’t believe the hotel began reviewing surveillance video until the middle of the afternoon.

• 6 p.m. Saturday. Frustrated with the search, relatives say they begin knocking on room doors to see if any guests know anything. The hotel calls police to complain about the knocking. Martin said one of the responding officers agrees to view the surveillance video again.

• 10 p.m. Saturday. Police tell the family that Jenkins has been spotted on video from around 3:20 a.m. that day.

• 12:25 a.m. Sunday. Jenkins is discovered in a walk-in freezer in a vacant area of the hotel. She had been missing nearly 24 hours.

• 12:48 a.m. Sunday. Jenkins is pronounced dead, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. The cause of death remains undetermined after an autopsy the next day, pending further studies and investigation.

• Around 5 a.m. Sunday. Martin is allowed to see her daughter’s body. She says the body had been removed from the freezer, which appeared to have been defrosted. “Her hair had soaking water up on there,” she told reporters.

What We Don’t Know

• What Jenkins was doing between the time she left home at 11:30 p.m. Friday and the time the video began around 1:35 a.m. Saturday.

• Who was in the hotel room. Police have not said how many were in the room and whether Jenkins knew all or most of them.

• What witnesses have told police about what went on in the room. Do they contradict each other? Jenkin’s mother has said her friends’ stories about what happened have changed. Is anyone considered a suspect?

• Whether Jenkins left alone or with someone, and whether anyone else was with her at the front desk.

• Who finally found Jenkins? How? Police have not said whether video shows her entering the freezer or whether there was anyone with her.

• We don’t know how Jenkins died or whether there were signs of trauma. Jenkins’ family said they were initially told by police that Jenkins apparently let herself into the freezer while drunk and died inside. But a police spokesman said on Monday that nothing has been ruled out. The medical examiner’s office says the cause of death remains undetermined pending further studies and investigation.

• Police initially said the freezer was running at the time, but a spokesman later appeared to back off that comment. It’s also unknown whether there was a lever inside that would have allowed Jenkins to get out.

September 12, 2017 8:06 pm