The FBI will not be investigating the death of a Black teenager in suburban Chicago, a development that likely dealt a blow to activists who were trying to pressure the federal agency to get involved. Instead, the Rosemont Police Department will continue leading the probe sparked after Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in a hotel’s walk-in freezer, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday evening.
“This investigation has been and remains the utmost priority for us,” Rosemont Police Chief Donald E. Stephens III said in a brief statement.
A description of the types cases usually investigated by the FBI does not seem to match the nature of Jenkins’ case, but her family and activists were still pushing for a federal probe in part because they believe there has been a “cover up,” though the extent of those allegations were not immediately clear.
Jenkins, 19, was first reported missing by friends after a night of partying at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, in the early hours of September 9. A series of videos subsequently surfaced online, prompting a number of social media-borne theories. However, police released video this past weekend showing an apparently intoxicated Jenkins staggering around the hotel before she wandered into the freezer in which she was ultimately found.
Rosemont’s police department has faced a scandal before, when a police officer alleged that the city covered up crimes, the Tribune reported in 2014. In addition, Chicago police has consistently been ranked among the most corrupt departments in the country, leading Jenkins’ advocates to seek help from the FBI.
If we can’t get the answers that we want, then we must cause Rosemont an economic hardship,” Community activist Mark Carter told local news outlet WGN-TV. “They must feel this. No cover up. You will not cover up the death of our children. This has gone on for far too long.”