The Crusader Newspaper Group

Teen’s death sparks social media frenzy

By Dezimon Alicea, Chicago Crusader  

Social media has reached a fever pitch in response to the death of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, who was found dead in a freezer in a Rosemont hotel. Much speculation still surrounds her death, but social media has served as a conduit of information and possible leads.

A video that was posted on Facebook which has garnered over 4 million views shows a young lady in sunglasses recording in the room where Jenkins was before she left the party in the hotel. The video gives very little insight about what happened to Jenkins, but it does provide some context to the times and people surrounding her death.

Jenkins was at a party in a room at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center in Rosemont before she went missing early Saturday morning. A few hours later, Jenkins family arrived to look for her but said hotel staff and village police didn’t join the search until the afternoon.

Jenkins’ body was eventually found in a walk-in freezer in a vacant part of the hotel, authorities said. She was pronounced dead just before 1 a.m. Sunday. Some reports said Jenkins stumbled into a hotel freezer while under the influence of alcohol. What police and family are trying to determine now is if there was some foul play associated with her death.

On Wednesday, September 10, Rosemont officials released some new details about their investigation into Jenkins’ death. They said they will share hotel surveillance video with her mother. Police said they will not release the video to the public until the investigation is completed.

There are questions the family is still trying to answer. As investigations continue, many people have taken to social media to express their concerns about the young lady in the video who many believe was associated with Jenkins death. The young lady has received death threats in regards to her possibly being involved.

Police, nor the community have been able to link this young lady with Jenkins death. But one thing has become clear: many are using social media as a way to tell their version of the story. YouTube as well as Facebook have become open forums to express their views and opinions about the situation.  During an interview on a local news station, Jenkins’ mother relayed a message about her attempts to see her daughter’s body when she learned she was dead. She said the hotel was reluctant to cooperate.

The video has brought much exposure to Jenkins’ tragic death and much negative attention to the young lady. While parents and adults are asking what can one learn from the video, some are advising teenagers to not allow social media to paint a picture of them that may not be true. Much speculation about Jenkins’ death is complicating ongoing criminal investigations.

Over the course of the past decade, social media has become not only a useful communication tool but the primary way to connect with family and friends. As the usage of social media increases, the ways in which we use this tool should increase as well.

The caution given over this medium of communication has to be thoroughly looked at, especially from the people that use it the most. According to a study done by Pew Research, 82% of Facebook users are between the age of 18-29. There is no other way to say it, but social media is a new form of leisure and communication for a large group of people.

This observation remains true especially among young adults. Now this is not an attempt to veer people away from using social media, like many people did in the 50-60s with the introduction of the color TV. But, this is a caution that without proper guidance; excess social media usage can lead down a dangerous path.


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