(BBC) The body of a missing 19-year-old has been found inside a walk-in freezer at a hotel in a Chicago suburb. Kenneka Jenkins went out on Friday night to a party at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois.
Early on Sunday morning, hotel staff found the teenager – who was out to celebrate her new job at a nursing home – dead in the freezer.
The Cook County medical examiner has scheduled a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death. Ms Jenkins’ mother says she suspects foul play.
Tereasa Martin told WGN, a Chicago TV news station, that Ms Jenkins’ friends called her in the early hours of Saturday to tell her she was missing.
Ms Martin said she went to the hotel and asked staff to check surveillance video, but was referred to police. Emergency dispatchers, she said, told her to wait a few more hours in case the Chicago teenager was still out with friends.
Ms Martin said she and her other daughter went searching for Ms Jenkins. The family filed a missing person’s report on Saturday afternoon.
Rosemont police said after that report was filed, hotel staff “actively canvassed and searched the immediate area”.
Ms Martin said police told her her daughter was “staggering” drunk at the time.
But the grieving mother said she doubts her daughter would have allowed herself to become trapped in a walk-in freezer, no matter how intoxicated she was.
“I believe someone in this hotel killed my child,” Ms Martin told WGN. The unused freezer was reportedly located in a part of the hotel where a new restaurant was under construction.
Crowne Plaza Hotel said in a statement: “We are saddened by this news, and our thoughts are with the young woman and her family during this difficult time.”