Accident or Murder: Keneeka Jenkins

Gabriella Ruiz, Writer

Keneeka Jenkins was born on September 15th, 1998, to her mother Theresa Martin. Keneeka graduated from Voice High School. According to Theresa, her daughter was a very loving and caring person that everyone enjoyed being around. 

On Friday, September 8th, 2017, there was a party being thrown at a hotel called the Crown Plaza. Keneeka did not tell her mom she was going to this party. Instead, she told her mother that she and three other friends would be going bowling and seeing a movie to celebrate Keneeka getting a job at a nursing home. They left Keneeka’s house around 11:30 pm using her mom’s car to drive to this party. Jenkins and her friends made a quick stop to grab a Bluetooth speaker, Hennesey, marijuana, and some energy drinks. After that stop, Keneeka and her friends were seen entering the Crown Plaza Hotel around 1:13 am. 

At 1:30 am Keneeka sent a text message to her sister. The content of that message, there is no information on it. However, that would be the last time she would have any contact with any of her family ever again. The party that was being held was on the 9th floor in room 927, and according to some people at the party, there were around 30-40 people who attended. There was one noise complaint, but the party was never actually shut down. 

Everyone that saw Jenkins that night stated that she was drinking, but wasn’t smoking or doing any drugs.  Around 3 am the girls had already been at this party for around an hour and forty-five minutes and Jenkins’ friends had thought it’s time to call it a night, so Keneeka and her three friends decide to leave room 927 and went to the elevator. That’s when she had actually stated she left her phone and car keys back at the room, so instead of all the girls sticking together, it’s decided that all three girls go back to the room to grab her stuff and leave Keneeka at the elevator. 

This particular choice to leave her alone by the elevator has sparked a lot of controversy in this case because the logic of it doesn’t make sense. Why would all three girls go back to the room to retrieve Keneeka’s items when one could have easily stuck with her while the other two go get the items. It took the girls around 10-15 minutes to grab the items and when they got back to the elevator Keneeka was gone. At first, they were really thrown off, they were not sure if she had left with someone else or if she went to the car and they couldn’t contact her because they had her phone. 

The girls started searching, which is all on surveillance. They were unable to find Keneeka anywhere, so they decided to call Keneeka’s mom because they thought maybe she got a cab, but her mom confirmed that Keneeka had never made it home that night. Keneeka’s friends looked on the lower level, which was full of conference rooms and two kitchens, but the girls didn’t do a very good search because there were many signs stating this level was for employees only. When they couldn’t find her they went back to the main lobby. 

At about 5 am, they still couldn’t find her so they drove to Keneeka’s house to inform her mom that they couldn’t find her daughter. That is when Theresa and all the girls got in the car, drove back to the Crown Plaza, and talked to the woman at the front desk to check the surveillance footage to see if her daughter ever left the hotel. When she was talking to the lady Theressa felt very dismissed, because the lady stated she couldn’t show her the footage because basically that is police matters, and she would have to file a missing person report. So instead Theresa decided to search the hotel herself, and when she couldn’t find her daughter herself she decided to file a missing person report. 

When she called 911, the police stated that they feel Keneeka is probably sleeping off the alcohol somewhere and to call in a couple of hours if she still hasn’t turned up. Theresa was not pleased at all with this answer, because she knew her daughter and knew she wouldn’t just be sleeping around somewhere. 

The authorities actually arrived at the Crown Plaza Hotel at 8:30 pm, but not for the reason you would think. They had arrived because staff and management called the authorities on Keneka’s family because they were searching the hotel, passing out flyers, and pulled the fire alarm in hopes they would find Keneka. Theresa told the police the situation, so the police searched the room the party was in and they said they couldn’t find anything that showed foul play. 

So now we move to the early morning hours of September 10th, 2017. The assistant food and produce manager was seen on surveillance walking into the second kitchen and he was seen walking towards the freezer. When he opens the freezer door, he discovers Keneeka’s body lying on the floor of the freezer. He immediately calls the police, and as they arrived they noticed no cardiac activity and she was pronounced dead. When her body was discovered she had no visible injuries, no visible traumas, nothing. The cause of death was Hypothermia and ruled accidental, but based on how the night went many people think otherwise.

Sources: Kendall Rae Savanna Brymer, Theresa (Keneeka’s mother)