By Avi Selk and Andrew deGrandpre
Police have released hotel surveillance video showing Kenneka Jenkins's last known footsteps through a Crowne Plaza outside Chicago last weekend, when the teen staggered in the early morning hours through empty halls and a deserted kitchen - toward the freezer she would be found dead inside nearly 24 hours later.
The video was released Friday, as Rosemont police announced they had interviewed more than two dozen people in the case.
It doesn't explain how the 19-year-old died. Nor has its release satisfied Jenkins's family, who have accused police and hotel staff of wasting hours that might have saved her life, reports the Washington Post.
But the footage helps stitch together the most complete timeline yet of what happened in the hotel on Sept. 9 - a day that began with a crowded party in an upper-floor room and ended with a grim discovery in the kitchen.
Thursday, Sept. 7 (two days before the death)
Surveillance footage shows unnamed people walking into the lobby of the Crowne Plaza, near Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and speaking with someone at the front desk.
In a statement accompanying the video's release, Rosemont police said the party, set for Saturday, was booked by two people using a stolen identity and a fraudulent credit card.
Police are now investigating the fraud - along with the tragic events from the night of the party.
Saturday, Sept. 9, about 1:15 a.m
In a blue jacket and tailor-ripped jeans, Jenkins walks single-file with three other women through what surveillance footage labels as the hotel's entry hall - apparently on their way to a party on a floor above.
Police are now studying social-media videos that appear to have been made at that party.
One posted to Facebook appears to show Jenkins listening to music in the room. Police said more than 30 people were at the party, about half of whom have since been identified and interviewed, while the rest are being sought.
Jenkins was last seen on the Crowne Plaza's ninth floor, witnesses told police.
The teen's mother told reporters that her friends said they left Jenkins alone in the hall to retrieve her car keys and phone from a room and never saw her again.
Saturday, about 3:24 a.m
Jenkins emerges from an elevator - alone now, and barely able to balance herself. She slams against the wall, then rights herself and passes beneath the surveillance camera.
About two minutes later, the elevator doors open again, but there is no one there to get on.
Saturday, about 3:30 a.m
Jenkins staggers through halls with no one else in sight, pausing to rest against a wall at one point, and a few minutes later nearly falling over a railing at the bottom of a staircase.
She looks to be lost - wandering down a hall only to reappear on the camera a minute later; going into a room, then coming back out; and finally returning the way she came.
Saturday, 3:32 a.m
Walking a little more steadily than she had in the hallways, Jenkins makes her way into an empty kitchen - all stainless steel and reddish tile.
She passes a metal counter and makes her way around an industrial sink.
She sways a bit to the right, then to the left, and then finally walks out of the frame for the last time.
Jenkins's mother, Teresa Martin, would later tell reporters that her daughter ended up in a vacant part of the hotel, although the walk-in freezer in that area was functioning.
The rest of Saturday morning
Martin got a call about 4 a.m. and learned that her daughter's friends couldn't find her, according to the Chicago Tribune.
She phoned 911 later that morning to reported Jenkins missing, the newspaper reported after listening to audio from the call: "She said she was worried because her daughter, who had a light tolerance for alcohol, had evidently been drinking - 'One cup is too much for her' - and that the teen wasn't the type to disappear."
Martin asked if police would look at surveillance footage, according to the Tribune, but the dispatcher told her that would take time.
"What I would recommend is just go home, relax a little bit, give it some time," the dispatcher said, the Tribune reported.
"She very well still could be in the room. She could just be passed out. You know how it is. You're drinking the night before, you get - you know what I mean."
Police said they took a missing-person report shortly before 1 p.m., but the first attempts to find Jenkins failed. They would search the hotel again later in the day, after seeing the surveillance footage described above.
Staff at the Crowne Plaza searched the floor of the party and public areas early in the afternoon, according to the Tribune. By 6 p.m., Jenkins's family were knocking on guests doors and searching for witnesses, and police returned to the hotel shortly afterward.
Cameras recorded someone entering the vacant kitchen about 8:30 p.m., the newspaper reported. But the person just looked around and left.
It wasn't until 12:30 a.m. Sunday, the Tribune wrote, that someone went back to the kitchen, inspected the corner where Jenkins last appeared in the video, then left and returned with a police officer.
Sunday and beyond
First one, then several officers rushed into the kitchen early Sunday morning. Police said detectives escorted Martin in, where she confirmed that the dead woman in the freezer was her daughter.
About an hour before sunrise, the Tribune reported, surveillance cameras recorded a body bag leaving the kitchen.
Rosemont police said they have interviewed more than two dozen people in the days since, and recreated the scene of Jenkins's death in a computer, and sent Facebook videos from the party off to a lab for enhancement.
"We are aggressively working with the Chicago Police Department and others to locate any individuals who were inside the hotel room that evening," the department wrote in a statement. "Additionally, we are still following up on the over 500 tips and leads coming in."
The case has inspired countless amateur sleuths to pore over what evidence has been made public, with speculative theories that the death was no accident.
At a news conference on Friday, Martin and the family's lawyers blamed authorities for ignoring the mother's early pleas for help.
"I also want to know what happened," Martin said, according to the Tribune.
"I want to see it all. I want to see her actually walking into this freezer and closing herself within this freezer and freezing to death."