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Kenneka Jenkins Case Closed: 'Sad' Accident, Rosemont Police Say

(CBS) -- Police in northwest suburban Rosemont on Friday officially closed the case of Kenneka Jenkins, calling the Chicago woman's hypothermia death inside a hotel walk-in freezer a "sad" accident.

Jenkins, a 19-year-old Chicago resident, was found dead inside a freezer at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare Hotel early Sept. 10 after she went to to the complex late Sept. 8 for a private party in a room there. The circumstances surrounding her death generated controversy, with friends and family members questioning whether foul play had occurred -- and whether police mishandled the case.

Kenneka Jenkins
Kenneka Jenkins (Photo supplied to CBS)

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office earlier this month ruled Jenkins' death an accident. Medical authorities say she died from hypothermia after being exposed to cold. Toxicology tests detected alcohol and topiramate, an epilepsy/migraine medication, in the woman's system, which contributed to her death, the M.E.'s office said.

"The death of any child is tragic; but the death and circumstances surrounding Ms. Jenkins are especially sad," Rosemont Police Chief Donald E. Stephens III said in a press release issued Friday.

The department released a timeline of Jenkins' last hours and other evidence, including audio recordings and photographs of Jenkins' body in the compartment where she was found.

Attorneys for Jenkins' family have said the photographs are too intrusive and graphic for public release -- and, further, raise more questions.

"Frankly, [the] photos depicting how [Jenkins] was found raise more questions about what happened to [her] than they answer," attorney Larry Rogers Jr. said in a statement. "The pictures are graphic and disturbing images and inexplicably show portions of [her] body exposed."

Police say they interviewed 44 people -- 30 of whom were in the hotel room where the party was that weekend. The police report says the credit card used to pay for the room was fraudulent and was linked to a gang on Chicago's West Side.

"While there were many theories, rumors and much speculation floating around social media regarding the death of Ms. Jenkins, none were supported with facts," police say in their final report.

Jenkins' final documented moments are these, according to Rosemont police:

-She leaves her home on the West Side of Chicago at 11:30 p.m. Friday Sept. 8.

-At 11:30 p.m., she arrives at Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare Hotel to attend a private party in a hotel room.

-Surveillance video time-stamped 3:25 a.m. Saturday Sept. 9 shows Jenkins exiting a lower-level elevator.

-At 3:32 a.m. she is last seen on surveillance video; Jenkins is moving through a first-floor kitchen.

-At 7:14 a.m., Jenkins' mother calls Rosemont Public Safety to report her daughter is missing.

-At 12:46 p.m., Jenkins' sister files a missing-persons report at the Rosemont police station. Officers search the hotel and, as the day progresses, review surveillance video.

-At 12:25 a.m. Sunday Sept. 10, a hotel employee finds Jenkins' body. She is pronounced dead at the scene.


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