Cause of Death Determined for Teen Found in Hotel Freezer

Kenneka Jenkins' death is ruled an accident
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2017 5:30 AM CDT
Cause of Death Determined for Teen Found in Hotel Freezer
This Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, photo shows the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare Hotel & Conference Center in Rosemont, Ill.   (Alyssa Pointer/Chicago Tribune via AP)

A Chicago teen's strange death has been ruled accidental. Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in the walk-in freezer of a Chicago-area hotel on Sept. 10. Speculation swirled in the immediate aftermath, fueled in part by videos that sprung up on social media. But the Cook County medical examiner's office determined she succumbed to hypothermia as evidenced in part by a type of lesion called mucosal erosions that is tied to the condition, reports the Chicago Tribune. Her blood alcohol level was 0.112, and she had also consumed caffeine and topiramate, a drug used to treat epilepsy and migraines. Her family said the latter was not a drug she had been prescribed.

The medical examiner specifically tested for date-rape drugs and found none in the 19-year-old's system. She did have a bruise on her right leg, but there were no significant signs of trauma or any indication of assault. Per the report, the alcohol and topiramate could have caused "poor coordination, confusion, and impaired judgement"; it noted that "central nervous system depression combined with cold exposure can hasten the onset of hypothermia and death." The Tribune reports the freezer Jenkins was found in at the Crowne Plaza in Rosemont was in an unused kitchen that had its cooking appliances removed but for "an unknown reason" had an operational but empty freezer. There was a circular release mechanism on the door inside the freezer, but the light was not on when Jenkins was found. (More Kenneka Jenkins stories.)

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