A thousand mourners turned out for the funeral of a 19-year-old woman who died in a hotel freezer earlier this month, with many still asking questions about her death.
Kenneka Jenkins was found dead inside an industrial freezer at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, a Chicago suburb, in the early hours of September 10, nearly 24 hours after going missing during a party with her friends in one of the rooms upstairs.
Police believe she stumbled into the freezer drunk and that her death was an accident but many, including her mother, believe she may have been murdered.
On Saturday, crowds gathered at Hope House in Chicago for the teenager’s funeral.
They wore white and lavender and sobbed as pastors described how the young woman ‘touched the world’.
The funeral of Kenneka Jenkins, the 19-year-old who died in a hotel freezer earlier this month, was held on Saturday in Chicago
‘We’re not here to solve this, we’re not here to ask questions.
‘We’re here to wrap our arms around a mother, a father, many aunts and uncles and friends who have lost a loved one,’ Reverend James Meeks said.
Kenneka, 19, was found dead on September 10
Jenkins’ mother Tereasa Martin wore a white dress for the service. She was seen standing over her daughter’s open casket at times.
On the order of service, she gave this message: ‘There is a special angel in heaven that is part of me, it is not where I want her to be but where God wanted her to be.
‘She was here for just a moment, it was like a nightmare to lose you. And though she is in heaven, she isn’t very far. She touched the hearts of many like only an angel can do: I would’ve held her every minute if the end I only knew.’
Martin has been vocal in her condemnation of police since her daughter went missing.
Kenneka had been in a room on the ninth floor with friends on the night of September 8.
She sent her final text message to her sister at 1.30am on Saturday September 9.
Social media videos taken around the time and beforehand by some of those at the party show her slurring her words and stumbling as she posed in bathroom and elevator mirrors.
On Saturday, her family wore white to the service while others wore purple. Her mother Tereasa Martin is pictured above leading the mourners
Kenneka was filmed by her friends in a hotel room hours before she disappeared. She danced in front of mirrors and appeared to slur her words
She does not appear at a final video that was live streamed from one of the partygoer’s Facebook accounts at 1.36am.
At 4.30am, her friends called her mother to say they could not find her. She rushed to the hotel and pleaded with them to show her surveillance footage in the hope it would lead to finding her daughter but staff refused.
It wasn’t until police contacted them the next afternoon – once they were satisfied Kenneka was in fact missing – that they reviewed it.
They found the young woman inside the freezer shortly after midnight that night.
Officers told Martin that her daughter had been drunk and that her death was an accident but she, like millions who followed her death and disappearance online, is convinced of foul play.
At some point in the early hours of Saturday September 9, she wandered off. She was filmed on hotel surveillance cameras stumbling around
The camera footage showed Kenneka struggling to maintain her balance as she walked the halls
She made her way into the kitchen (above) but was never filmed walking into the freezer herself
Some have wildly claimed that Kenneka was murdered, that she was gang raped in the room before she disappeared and that there is a cover-up story afoot. None of these suspicions have been proved.
Among those at her funeral on Saturday were people who had never even met the girl but who picked up on the story in the news and on social media.
They said they felt connected to her and compelled to attend the service.
‘I’ve been following this story like she’s a relative. Maybe now — hopefully now — we can get to the bottom of this. Those involved need to go to jail, and hopefully this never happens again to another family,’ one told The Chicago Sun Times.
No arrests have been made in connection with her death.
The young girl’s obituary was printed on the order of service which also contained several photographs of her