Pictures of a dead Kenneka Jenkins have sparked protests in Illinois, with community members calling on police to continue the investigation into the teenager’s death.
Jenkins died in September after being locked in the walk-in freezer of the Crowne Plaza hotel in Rosemont, a suburb of Chicago. Local police had been investigating the 19-year-old’s death, but concluded last week that she had died accidentally after drunkenly stumbling into the freezer.
But with the conclusion of the investigation, police also released pictures of Kenneka Jenkins’ dead body that only caused more controversy. In the pictures, Jenkins appeared disheveled and looked to be partially undressed, leading many to speculate that she may have been assaulted.
After local police announced that the investigation into her death was closed, a crowd of protesters showed up outside the Crowne Plaza to call on police to continue investigating whether a crime occurred, ABC 7 in Chicago reported.
The death of Kenneka Jenkins had already raised tensions in the greater Chicago area, with other protests in September including some that turned violent. One person was arrested at a protest in the week after her death, WGN-TV reported, which prompted the family of Kenneka Jenkins to speak out in an effort to ease tensions.
Jenkins’ mother, Tereasa Martina, wrote a note on her Facebook page encouraging people to end the protests. Martina said in a video message that she did not mean for anyone to get hurt in the quest for justice for Kenneka.
Despite the controversy over the investigation’s conclusion, police say the evidence supports a natural death after Jenkins was accidentally locked inside the freezer, and that her death was compounded by intoxication from a combination of alcohol and prescription epilepsy medication. Experts said the teenager showed signs of hypothermia, which often leads victims to attempt to undress in the final stages.
But questions still remain about the death of Kenneka Jenkins, including why it took hotel staff more than 24 hours to find the teen’s body. The photos of Kenneka Jenkins have also raised suspicious among those who believe that the disheveled clothing and missing shoe may have been signs of a struggle rather than symptoms of hypothermia.
[Featured Image by Rosemont Public Safety Department]