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7 things to know about Kenneka Jenkins, whose body was found in a hotel freezer

Published: Friday, September 15, 2017 @ 3:33 PM
Updated: Saturday, October 07, 2017 @ 1:45 PM

Missing Chicago Teen Found Dead Inside Hotel Freezer

This story has been updated to reflect new details in the Kenneka Jenkins case.

The mysterious death of Kenneka Jenkins, 19, who was found dead in the freezer of a suburban hotel, has sparked national outcry and questions about the circumstances surrounding her death.

RELATED: Employee finds deceased coworker in restaurant freezer

The teenager left her home for a party Sept. 8, according to the Chicago Tribune. After her mother, Tereasa Martin, demanded hotel staff search for her daughter, Jenkins body was found in the hotel freezer of Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare Hotel & Conference Center in Rosemont, Illinois.

1. Autopsy results released Friday determined that Kenneka Jenkins death was an accident.

Cook County medical examiner’s office has determined the cause of Kenneka Jenkins’ death at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Sept. 10, the Chicago Tribune reported.The 19-year-old died from hypothermia due to exposure in the hotel’s walk-in freezer, according to the results released Friday. The freezer Jenkins was found in was capable of getting to a temperature of 8 degrees, the medical examiner's office noted.

In addition to freezing exposure, alcohol intoxication and the use of topiramate, a drug known for treating epilepsy and migraines were “contributing factors.” Her family said Jenkins had not been prescribed topiramate, but the level of the drug was within therapuetic range.

The office also found mucosal erosions, a type of lesion, that indicated Jenkins had suffered from hypothermia and an abrasion on her right ankle. The autopsy results showed her brain was swollen, but that finding does not indicate a specific cause of death, according to the autopsy.

Her blood alcohol level was 0.112, higher than the legal limit of 0.08 for legally driving. The alcohol and the drug can enhance each other, the office said.

Last month, Jenkins’ mother was convinced that the delay in investigating her daughter’s death could have made a difference. It’s not clear who found Jenkins or if there were any signs of trauma.

"If they had taken me seriously and checked right away, they could have found my daughter much sooner and she might have been alive," Martin said.

2. Police believe Kenneka walked herself into the freezer where her body was found the morning of Sept. 10. Rosemont police have rejected calls for FBI to get involved with the Jenkins case.

Kenneka Jenkins was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m. Sunday. Police informed  Martin and other family members after 1 a.m. Sunday, that Kenneka’s body was found in a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza, according to the Tribune. Police told Martin that her daughter was inebriated and likely stumbled into the freezer, which was not being used to store food, on her own.

Rosemont police officials announced they would continue investigating Kenneka Jenkins death without support from the FBI. During a weekend vigil for Jenkins, Martin and others called for the FBI to open a federal investigation into what happened the night of Jenkins death, according to Newsweek.

“This investigation has been and remains the utmost priority for us,” said Chief Donald Stephens III. “Throughout this investigation we have used any and all outside agencies necessary to complete a thorough investigation and will continue to do so as needed.

On Sept. 15, Police released Crown Plaza hotel footage of Jenkins apparently staggering through the hotel hallways, stumbling into a stairwell and, lastly, wandering into the hotel’s kitchen. The video footage, pieced together by the Chicago Tribune, can be found here. The video clips released do not show Jenkins entering the walk-in freezer where her body was found. However, the security video appears to be captured by a motion-activated camera, which did not display anyone coming into the area until her body was found.

3. Kenneka Jenkins’ funeral drew thousands of mourners from across the country.

Mourners gathered at Chicago’s House of Hope Saturday, expressing their deepest grief and fondest memories of the 19-year-old during the 2 ½-hour service. 

Friends, relatives and complete strangers processioned pass Kenneka Jenkins open casket, which was surrounded by modest flower bouquets on either side. Her loved ones  honored Jenkins during the service by donning purple or wearing tribute shirts that read “Justice for Kenneka.” Though little was revealed about Jenkins’ life during the funeral, a poignant poem read by her nieces touched on their relationship with her. “Every time I feel upset she makes me feel like a princess. Neka was so funny she would make me cry,” one of her nieces said during the service.

House of Hope pastor Rev. James Meeks comforted those in attendance and sought to keep the service protected from the media frenzy that has surrounded Jenkins’ death. His staff monitored social media throughout the service to ensure no one live-streamed.

More than 1,000 people attended the service, including those like Denise Mitchell, who did not know Jenkins but was moved by her mysterious death. 

"We've been following this ever since it happened — crying, staying up late at night — it's heartbreaking. It feels like a relative," Mitchell told the Tribune.

4. According to CBS Chicago, there is no video of Kenneka Jenkins entering the hotel freezer, where her body was found. 

According to a spokesperson for the Crowne Plaza Hotel, there is no footage available of Kenneka Jenkins walking into the hotel freezer, CBS Chicago reported Wednesday. The Rosemont, Illinois, hotel does not have a “video camera trained on the freezer,” where Jenkins body was found, the station reported. The video clips released show Jenkins roaming around the hotel for more than an hour.

Earlier this month, an attorney for Jenkins mother, Tereasa Martin, demanded extensive hotel footage. Family attorney Larry Rogers Jr. said the family had only been given “snippets” from the surveillance footage.

“The family has not been provided any video or other evidence of Kenneka Jenkins walking into a freezer,” Larry Rogers Jr. said in a statement. “Serious questions remain as to how she ended up in a Crowne Plaza Hotel freezer and why it took a day and a half for the hotel to find Kenneka.”

During a protest in honor of Jenkins, Martin also said she had not seen surveillance footage to prove that her daughter walked into the hotel’s freezer alone.

"I want to see her literally, actually walking into this freezer,"  Martin said last week. 

 

5. On Oct. 6,  Rosemont police announced though “no sign of foul play exists,” they are still investigating Jenkins’ death and looking for two individuals that checked in the hotel for the party.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill Al Franken's Senate seat

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 3:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 12:48 PM

WATCH: Senator Al Franken Resigns from Senate

Updated 1:02 p.m. ET Dec. 13: Sen. Al Franken said Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith “will make an excellent United States Senator” after she was announced Wednesday as the Democratic congressman’s replacement.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton named Smith as Franken’s replacement after the senator announced his intention to resign. He has not set a date for his resignation. Dayton said Wednesday that Smith will serve a one-year term ending in January 2019.

Franken said Smith, who became lieutenant governor in 2015, will “be an effective senator who knows how to work across party lines to get things done for Minnesota.”

“I look forward to working with her on ensuring a speedy and seamless transition,” he said.

Updated 11:07 a.m. ET Dec. 13: Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton announced Wednesday that the state’s lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, will fill the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Al Franken.

Franken announced his intent to resign earlier this month after multiple women came forward to accuse the Democrat of sexual misconduct.

In a statement, officials said Smith will serve a one-year term in the Senate before Minnesotans go to the polls to chose Franken’s replacement.

Original story: Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will be appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat of fellow Democrat Al Franken, the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio are reporting.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Al Franken will resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct

Gov. Mark Dayton will announce Smith's appointment at a news conference Wednesday morning, the outlets reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the decision.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Al Franken: What happens to his Senate seat if he resigns?

Both outlets reported that Smith, 59, also will vie for the seat in the November 2018 special election.

The news comes less than one week after Franken announced he'd be resigning amid sexual misconduct allegations.

>> Read more trending news 

From 2003-2006, Smith, a New Mexico native who has lived in Minnesota since 1984, was vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. She also was chief of staff for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Dayton before becoming lieutenant governor in 2015.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

What You Need To Know About Al Franken

Man killed when van falls on him as he tries to steal tires

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 12:03 PM

A man was killed while trying to steal wheels off a van. (Photo: WPXI.com)
A man was killed while trying to steal wheels off a van. (Photo: WPXI.com)

A man was killed Tuesday when the van he was trying to steal wheels off of fell on top of him, police said. 

>> Read more trending news

Police found the man's body under the vehicle around 8:30 a.m.

The man was identified as Jeremy Michael Dickey, 41, of Wilkinsburg, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office. 

Police: Drunken off-duty firefighter kills pregnant 18-year-old, unborn baby in crash

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 12:18 PM

An off-duty Dallas firefighter was allegedly under the influence of alcohol Wednesday morning, Dec. 13, 2017, when he struck an SUV driven by 18-year-old Alyssa Pimentel in nearby Cedar Hill. The teen and her unborn son were killed in the crash.
Dallas Fire-Rescue
An off-duty Dallas firefighter was allegedly under the influence of alcohol Wednesday morning, Dec. 13, 2017, when he struck an SUV driven by 18-year-old Alyssa Pimentel in nearby Cedar Hill. The teen and her unborn son were killed in the crash.(Dallas Fire-Rescue)

An off-duty Dallas firefighter is accused of killing a pregnant teenager and her unborn child early Wednesday in a crash in nearby Cedar Hill.

The unnamed firefighter was driving a Mercedes-Benz south on U.S. Highway 67 around 12:45 a.m. when he rear-ended a Mazda SUV, according to the Dallas Morning News. The driver of the Mazda, Alyssa Pimentel, 18, and her passenger were both ejected by the impact.

Pimentel and her unborn child died at the scene, the newspaper reported. Her male passenger, who Pimentel’s father identified as her boyfriend, was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.

The firefighter and his passenger were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police investigators believe the firefighter was under the influence of alcohol and speeding at the time of the crash. 

Pimentel’s father told WFAA-TV that his daughter’s baby boy, whom she planned to name Josiah, was due next month. She had just picked up her boyfriend from work when the crash occurred.

The boyfriend has a broken neck, Pimentel’s father told the news station.

Pimentel identified her boyfriend on her Facebook page as Isaiah Perez.

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Pimentel’s father described his daughter as a “sweetheart,” a kind and caring person who would do anything for people. 

Family members mourned Pimentel on social media.

“I’m going to miss you, my beautiful niece,” Mary Flores Pimentel wrote from Chandler, Arizona. “You will always be in my heart.”

KDFW Fox 4 in Dallas reported that the name of the firefighter has yet to be released, but investigators said he faces an intoxication manslaughter charge in Pimentel’s death.

Thieves steal doors off car overnight, police say

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 10:58 AM

File photo.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The thieves knew exactly what they wanted - a couple of doors from a 2014 Toyota Camry- -- and it only took a few minutes to take them.

>> Read more trending news

"It was just bizarre," car owner Ann Carmody told WBAL. "It was so bizarre that I almost started laughing. Like, who loses their doors?" 

Unscrupulous body shops will contract with thieves to take specific parts needed for a job, Tom Reich, a special agent with the National Insurance Crime Bureau told WMAR

“They come in the middle of the night they find both right here close, they grab them and they're off and you're talking maybe five minutes of work to get both doors off the car," Reich said.

In this case, the two passenger doors were removed late Saturday or early Sunday morning and nothing else was taken, according to WMAR

The Carmody’s insurance will replace the doors. Neighbors set up a GoFundMe to help the Carmodys buy security cameras. Neighbors also helped the Carmodys clean up the mess the thieves left behind and offered to give her and her husband, a disabled veteran, rides.

“It amazed me,” Carmody told WMAR. “This happening introduced me to all these neighbors that I had said hi to but never really knew and now I'm close to a lot of neighbors, so a lot of good came out of it.”