Crowne Plaza Hotel offers to pay for Kenneka Jenkins funeral

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The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont is offering to cover the funeral expenses of Kenneka Jenkins, the 19-year-old Chicago woman who was found dead in the hotel’s walk-in freezer over the weekend.

In a statement released Thursday, a spokesman said the hotel has also extended an offer to the family that would allow them to privately view 36 total hours of surveillance recordings from 40 different cameras.

“Our hearts go out to the Kenneka’s mother, her family and friends. We hope covering the funeral costs provides a small bit of relief for them,” hotel spokesman Glenn Harston said in a statement.

It was not known Thursday afternoon if Jenkins’ family had accepted either offer. A spokesman for the family could not be reached for comment.

The hotel’s announcement that it would pay for funeral expenses came less than a day after more than 100 protesters took to the streets near the northwest suburban hotel, amid theories spreading on social media that there was foul play in Jenkins’ death.

Activists chanting “No justice, no peace” and carrying signs calling for “Justice for Kenneka” marched down River Road near Balmoral, shutting down traffic in the busy entertainment district.

Wednesday evening, a police spokesman once again said Jenkins’ death was considered noncriminal and that there was “no credible evidence at this point” that would prompt police to reclassify Jenkins’ death as a murder.

Police in Rosemont planned to show Tereasa Martin, Jenkins’ mother, security footage from the hotel on Thursday, though not the full 36 hours.

Jenkins left her home near the United Center at 11:30 p.m. Friday to go to a party in a room of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, according to Rosemont Police. Jenkins’ sister last heard from her via text message about 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

About 4 a.m., Jenkins’ friends called her mother to tell her they could not find her, according to community activist Andrew Holmes. An hour later, Martin was at the hotel. She filled out a police report and Jenkins’ sister reported her missing.

Jenkins was last seen at a party on the ninth floor of the hotel in the early hours of Saturday, police said. She was reported missing at 1:16 p.m. that afternoon. Police told Martin that surveillance footage showed Jenkins inebriated near the front desk, according to Holmes.

Hotel staff and management searched the hotel and discovered Jenkins inside a freezer at 12:24 a.m. Sunday, police said. Holmes said Martin was told by police that Jenkins, while drunk, let herself into the freezer and died inside — a narrative disputed by her family.

Rosemont police on Wednesday evening said they had located and interviewed 12 people “who were involved in some way,” including eight who were there for the “hotel gathering.”

Investigators have identified four other people who were in the hotel room, and are trying to track them down for interviews.

“We’re asking them to come forward,” Mack said. “We’re having a difficult time contacting many of them.”

Holmes said Martin believes her daughter was the victim of “foul play.”

“She wants all of those people that were inside that room to come forward and talk to detectives and clear their name,” Holmes said. “Someone in that room knew what happened.”

It remained unclear how and by whom Jenkins was found in the freezer.

Despite autopsy results still pending and police classifying hers as a noncriminal death, social media has been flooded with theories as to how Jenkins died.

A GoFundMe page set up to help cover Jenkins’ funeral costs was taken down not long after it was set up because, Holmes said, the person who initiated it was not connected to Jenkins or her family.

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