The tragic and mysterious death of Kenneka Jenkins


19 year old Kenneka Jenkins before her tragic disappearance and death.

Alyssa Cabrera, Copy Editor

19 year old Kenneka Jenkins went to the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center for a party, only to lead to her being found dead in the kitchen freezer of this Rosemont hotel, on September 10th. Before Jenkins was found dead, she was reported missing by her family who went themselves to the hotel to look for her after noticing that their report wasn’t being reviewed. According to police, Jenkins walked into a freezer on her own, while heavily intoxicated, and died from hypothermia.

Her case was recently closed by police as an accident. But is there more to the story?

“From what I’ve read, this is definitely a case that needs to be further investigated,” says high school science teacher, Ms. Klimowicz.

There are many perspectives as to what really happened to Kenneka that night at the Plaza Hotel. Although many more people lean towards this case having more to it, there are still people who consider this case rightfully closed. Either that or people are just completely unsure about what to think.

“The police haven’t investigated far enough. Her jacket was ripped, pants pulled, and there were garbage remnants near her body. I feel like the police dismissed those as trivial when it could’ve been something way more than an accident,” declares freshman Micah Gomez.

With all of evidence presented, it is hard not to consider that there was an alternative scenario to Jenkins freezing to death after being in that freezer for an abnormal amount of time. But, like every case that seems to be mysterious and unanswered, we may never know what really happened that night.

“Something else had to be happening if a family isn’t permitted to see their own dead relative. The police have never been completely trustworthy. Personally, I would not choose to put my trust in their judgment when it comes to this situation,” says freshman Jalexie Urena.

Since so much new evidence piled up since Kenneka was first found dead in September, many people feel bad for what Jenkins’s family must be going through when police chose not the investigate any further.

“If this was somebody in my family, I would be just as outraged as her family because not all of the evidence seems to have been taken into consideration,” adds Ms Klimowicz.

How would you want police to react if you were in the position of Jenkin’s family?

Although many people are upset about how police didn’t look at the bigger picture of this case, there are still people who have mutual feelings on the case being closed.

“I can only imagine how hard of a job this must be. There could be a side of the story that we don’t necessarily see. Police officers and medical examiners are also human too, and they can make mistakes,” mentions Ms. Klimowicz.

Sometimes, we need to consider how difficult it must be to gather and absorb all of the information within a certain case.

Due to how famous this case got through it being shared and spotlighted online, many people have started to question the impact social media has on cases like these.

“On one hand, social media can be detrimental to a case like this… people could be putting misinformation out there or something that doesn’t represent the complete picture,” states Ms. Klimowicz.”

The last thing you need for a serious case like this one is to be told something that isn’t true. That could completely change your perspective on the topic.

“On the other hand, if there is information that isn’t being dealt with or that investigators are ignoring and not taking into consideration regarding the case, social media can provide a platform for the family to reach out and bring attention to a particular case,” adds Ms. Klimowicz.

One prominent example of this is when the video of Kenneka stumbling towards the freezer in the kitchen of the hotel was first released. This was a huge breakthrough in the case considering many people realized if she was that intoxicated, how did she get into the freezer all on her own?

“With the whole video released she seemed intoxicated with alcohol and with what the hotel staff said someone in that kind of state wouldn’t be able to open the fridge door,” mentions Gomez.

Many others also say that people with power or influence over the public could bring a lot of light onto cases just like these, where things just don’t seem like they add up.

“Significant members of society speaking up, like politicians or social justice leaders. Also, every day civilians petitioning or demanding the reopening of the case,” says Urena.

It is important for us to come together as a society to bring justice in situations like these. If a “solution” has already been found yet is not the right way to resolve that problem, then the right thing to do would be to spread the message and make sure that you are accurately putting the story out there.

“That’s why it’s important to have a series of checks and balances where people are checking each other’s work and being honest, and making sure they doing the best that they can,” adds Ms Klimowicz.

Taking the time to make sure that a right solution to a problem or case is found, is a key way to provide closure for all of the families who lose a loved one to sad events like these. The last thing you want is for someone to make a mistake while reviewing a case and completely change the final result of what was really found from the evidence that was collected. That can be really hard on the people who rely on authority like the police to make important decisions like the results of a case.

If we aren’t constantly checking up in each other’s work, then how will we ensure that everything put out there is accurate and honest through facts and data?

Ensure that you inform yourself accurately about cases like these so that no more families like Jenkins’s have to ever go through that type of pain. Losing someone and not having any sort of closure or justice towards that event is not what families of cases like this should have to go through. We may never know what actually happened to Kenneka that night. It is up to you to decide what side you are on, or even if you are mutual about the topic.

Cases like Jenkins where families rely on the conclusion made by the authorities who were supposed to find the right solution to the case, should always be taken seriously and reviewed closely. To have a mistake in what you conclude from the evidence given to you, can cause families of these events to feel like their voice isn’t heard, and that they will never get justice for themselves and the ones that they lost. Sometimes, we can’t get justice without being able to speak up and get the message across.

It just makes you stop and think, what would have happened regarding Jenkins case if Jenkins’ family decided not to speak up about their concerns? Would this case have gotten as much attention as it did? Or could it have just been another tragic, forgotten case that left you thinking “what actually happened here?”