New images of a dead Kenneka Jenkins have been released, deepening the mystery of the teenager found dead in a freezer in what officials say was a tragic accident.
The 19-year-old had been found dead in September inside a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza in Rosemont, a village outside Chicago. Officials investigated the death but ruled that Jenkins' death was an accident after she drunkenly stumbled into the freezer and gotten locked inside.
But the Kenneka Jenkins death photos released this week have cast doubt on that conclusion. As Newsweek noted, several photos of Jenkins' dead body were released on Friday after authorities closed the investigation into her death. The graphic images showed Jenkins with one shoe missing and dirt covering her jeans, with the rest of her clothes looking disheveled. Portions of her body were exposed.
Jenkins had been missing for close to a full day after she disappeared after attending a party on the hotel's ninth floor.
On Friday, the Rosemont Public Safety Department issued a four-page statement about the conclusion of the investigation, noting that there was no evidence anyone else went into the freezer.
"The area in which the body was discovered was on the first floor of the hotel, inside an unused and vacant kitchen. There is one motion-censored still camera inside the kitchen that points in the area of the freezer but does not show the door of the freezer," the department said in a written statement. "Additionally, there was only one accessible entrance into the kitchen. Anyone who would have walked toward the freezer would have activated this camera and been observed on hotel CCTV. From the time Ms. Jenkins entered the kitchen to the time her body was discovered, only one member of hotel security entered the kitchen while conducting his normal rounds. However, he did not get close to the freezer and was never out of sight of the camera."
Before the official announcement, there had been rampant speculation and conspiracy theories that Jenkins was the victim of a crime. There was even a viral petition calling on the Rosemont police to turn the case over to the FBI.Family members believe the photos could still point to some kind of crime. Larry Rodgers Jr., a lawyer for the Jenkins family, told the Chicago Tribune that the photos do not appear to match up to the official story that the teenager stumbled into the freezer and died accidentally.
"Frankly, the photos depicting how Kenneka was found raise more questions about what happened to Kenneka Jenkins than they answer," Rogers Jr. said on behalf of the family.
But the Chicago Tribune noted that there could be an explanation for the disheveled state seen in Kenneka Jenkins' death photos. While there was some speculation that she may have been assaulted, medical experts note that it is common for people suffering hypothermia to instead feel as if they are too warm and try to take off some clothing.
The full set of Kenneka Jenkins death photos can be seen here, but be warned that it contains some images that may be upsetting to some.
[Featured Image by Rosemont Public Safety Department]