The death of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, who was found in dead in a hotel freezer in Chicago last month, has been ruled an accident, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Jenkins died of hypothermia from exposure to cold in a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Rosemont, but alcohol intoxication and the use of a drug for treating epilepsy and migraines were also “significant contributing factors,” the office said in a report.
Jenkins’ blood-alcohol level was 0.112, which is higher than the 0.08 BAC typically used to rule if an individual is too drunk to drive, the report said.
The teen also did not have a prescription for the topiramate medication found in her system, her family reportedly told investigators. The amount of the drug in her system was in the “therapeutic range,” the report said.
“Alcohol and topiramate are synergistic. When combined, the effect of either or both drugs is enhanced. Topiramate, like alcohol, can cause dizziness, impaired memory, impaired concentration, poor coordination, confusion and impaired judgment,” the news release said. “Central nervous system depression, or impairment, combined with cold exposure can hasten the onset of hypothermia and death.”
The teen was found in the freezer on Sept. 10, nearly 24 hours after having attended a party with friends on the ninth floor of the hotel. Her family reportedly made several calls to police and pleas to the hotel before Jenkins was found.
Friends and family questioned foul play after the teen’s death although authorities reportedly told Jenkins’ family early on that they believed she had accidentally walked into the freezer.
Authorities later released surveillance showing the teen wandering around the hotel and eventually ending up in the kitchen near the hotel’s freezer. Jenkins appeared disoriented in the footage.
Jenkins was never seen entering the freezer as no cameras were pointed in its direction, reports said.
The medical examiner’s office said there was no evidence of an altercation before the teen’s death.
Rosemont police said Friday that they have not closed the case, and are seeking two individuals who rented the hotel room for the party Jenkins attended.. Shaniqua Watkins who is believed to have purchased the room has a warrant out for her arrest, police said.
Attorneys for Jenkins’ family are reportedly conducting their own investigation. They have suggested the hotel may be at fault for the woman’s death, reports said.