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.

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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.

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Florida sheriff to politicians who don't support gun control: 'You will not get re-elected'

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 10:03 AM

WATCH: Florida Teacher Speaks Out About High School Shooting

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel blasted politicians after a gunman killed 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school, saying that if gun laws don’t change, “you will not get re-elected in Broward County.”

>> WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech

According to the Huffington Post, while speaking at a vigil in Parkland for the victims of the shooting, Israel said, “If you’re an elected official, and you want to keep things the way they are ― if you want to keep gun laws as they are now ― you will not get re-elected in Broward County.”

>> Click here to watch

The vigil was attended by thousands at an amphitheater that was lit by candles and had 17 4-foot angels – one for each of the victims who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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Last week, Israel called on lawmakers to allow law enforcement officers to involuntarily detain people who post questionable and disturbing content on social media.

“We need to have the power to take that person and bring them before mental health professionals at that particular time, involuntarily, and have them examined,” he saidthe Huffington Post reported. “People are going to be rightfully concerned about their rights ― as am I. But what about these students? What about the rights of young kids who go to schools?”

>> PHOTOS: Remembering Parkland, Florida, school shooting victims

He added that he wishes law enforcement officials could act “if they see something on social media, if they see graphic pictures of rifles and blood and gore and guns and bombs, if they see something, horrific language, if they see a person talking about ‘I want to grow up to be a serial killer.’”

Democrats in Congress are already calling for gun control while Republicans are saying that it’s too soon to talk about it.

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said during a press conference Thursday that we need to think less about fighting “each other politically” in the wake of the shooting.

“This is one of those moments where we just need to step back and count our blessings,” he said Thursday at a news conference, according to CNN. “We need to think less about taking sides and fighting each other politically, and just pulling together. This House, and the whole country, stands with the Parkland community.”

>> Florida school shooting timeline: Seven minutes, three floors and 17 dead

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., tweeted that Congress should vote on measures to implement “universal background checks, a ban on military-style weapons and a prohibition of those on the terror watchlist from purchasing firearms.”

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Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, said Congress will have “another round” of this debate, but admitted that it’s hard to get any sort of gun legislation passed.

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WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 3:43 AM
Updated: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 3:43 AM

WATCH: Florida High School Shooting Survivor Talks About NRA

A survivor of Wednesday's deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, slammed President Donald Trump, lawmakers and the National Rifle Association in a scathing speech Saturday at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale.

>> Click here to watch

>> PHOTOS: Remembering Parkland Florida school shooting victims

"Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving," said Emma Gonzalez, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. "But instead, we are up here standing together because if all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it's time for victims to be the change that we need to see. Since the time of the founding fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed, but our laws have not."

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Gonzalez called out one of Trump's tweets following the shooting that left 17 people dead.

>> See the tweet here

"So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!" Trump wrote Thursday morning.

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Gonzalez said Saturday: "We did, time and time again. Since he was in middle school, it was no surprise to anyone who knew him to hear that he was the shooter. Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn't know this kid, OK? We did. We know that they are claiming mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this was not just a mental health issue. He would not have harmed that many students with a knife."

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She added: "If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association."

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She went on to criticize him and other lawmakers.

"To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!" she said, prompting the crowd to chant, "Shame on you" in response.

>> Read more trending news 

"Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS,” Gonzalez said. “They say tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works. We call BS."

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14-year-old Charlotte girl found 5 months after disappearance

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 6:00 PM

Missing Teen Found 5 Months After Disappearance

14-year-old Charlotte girl who disappeared five months ago was found in Georgia this week.

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Nakia Williams was last seen Sept. 7, 2017, after leaving her home on Wiegon Lane, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

Georgia law enforcement officials were able to confirm Wednesday that she was seen in Emanuel County, Georgia, and that she was possibly staying in Toombs County, Georgia, a neighboring county.

“And I thought I heard something wrong, and I was like, 'What did you say?' And she repeated, 'We found her,'” Shrounda Alston, Nakia’s cousin, said.

Nakia’s mother told Channel 9 that she was found that same day in Lyons, Georgia, which is more than 250 miles away from Charlotte.

“I was just able to wrap my arms around her, and just, we just cried for about five minutes,” Cherise Williams-Stowe, Nakia’s mother, told Channel 9. “We were just so happy to see each other.”

The family received the tip they have been praying for for months.

Family and friends did everything they to find Nakia, including handing out flyers and posting on a Facebook page called “Our missing hearts.”

Williams-Stowe told Channel 9 she still doesn't know the whole story of why Nakia disappeared and what happened in the past five months.

“She said she learned a lot while she was out,” Williams-Stowe said. “She learned it was hard trying to be out there on your own and everybody doesn't love you.”

Many of those questions are still being investigated, but Alston said the family can finally rest knowing Nakia is back home.

“And I had to keep the momentum going for her. I didn't want her to be forgotten,” Alston said.

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Gibson guitar company, maker of the Les Paul, facing bankruptcy after 116 years in business

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 6:13 PM

Gibson Guitar Company Facing Bankruptcy

Gibson guitar company, which has been a staple brand among various musical instruments since 1902, is facing bankruptcy.

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According to the Nashville Post, Gibson’s chief financial officer, Bill Lawrence, left after six months on the job and just as $375 million in senior secured notes mature and $145 million in bank loans become due, if they aren’t refinanced by July

The departure of Lawrence was seen as a bad sign for a company trying to re-organize.

The company, which generates $1 billion a year in revenues, recently moved out of its Nashville warehouse, where it had operated since the mid 1980s. 

The company owner since then, Henry Juskiewicz, is trying to re-order the company according to the Post but is facing a battle with creditors over bad business decisions. The company recently sold Baldwin piano, and is hoping to see a boost in cash from the various electronics companies it had purchased the last several years.

Recording Artists Dickey Betts, Charlie Daniels, Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke and Jimmy Hall at the press conference for the Gibson Custom Southern Rock tribute 1959 Les Paul at the Gibson Guitar Factory on May 19, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.(Rick Diamond)

Gibson began in 1902 in Kalamazoo, Mich., producing various instruments, including acoustic guitars. In 1952 the company brought in famous guitarist Les Paul to sell a guitar based on his own name, which would become one of the most iconic instruments ever made. 

The Gibson Les Paul began production in 1952, and became a staple of the rock and roll movement since. The company since developed other iconic guitars such as the SG, Firebird, and has sponsored hundreds of musicians. 

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The company moved from Kalamazoo to Nashville in the mid 1980s. 

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