The death of a Chicago teenager, whose body was discovered last month in the walk-in freezer of a hotel, has been ruled an accident by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office in Illinois.
But the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death, and toxicology reports indicating that she had ingested a medication used to treat epilepsy and migraines, have fueled further speculation about what happened on the night she disappeared.
The teenager, Kenneka Jenkins, was attending a party at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, near Chicago on Sept. 8 and was reported missing the next day. Investigators found her body facedown in the freezer on Sept. 10.
On Twitter and Facebook, people complained that the police investigation had not moved fast enough because Jenkins, 19, was black. At a news conference on Sept. 15, lawyers for Jenkins' mother, Tereasa Martin, questioned why the hotel's camera footage was not reviewed after she first called 911.
On Friday, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said that the cause of her death was hypothermia and that the combination of alcohol and topiramate -- a prescription drug used to prevent migraines and to control seizures -- was a significant contributing factor.
In a statement Friday, the Rosemont Police Department said "no sign of foul play appears to exist" but that its investigation was not yet over.
Detectives were examining information from four cellphones used by people at the party, including Jenkins', the police said. Investigators were working to enhance and analyze surveillance video, some of which showed Jenkins stumbling through the hallways of the hotel.
Investigators tested for hundreds of drugs, including date rape drugs, and did not find any. They found a blood alcohol concentration of 0.112.
Officials said they had found topiramate in her system that fell "within the appropriate prescribed levels" that are used to treat conditions like migraines. The medical examiner's office, citing information from Jenkins' family, said she had not been prescribed topiramate.
When alcohol and topiramate are combined, the effects of each can be enhanced. The medical examiner's office said that these substances, combined with the exposure to the cold, could "hasten the onset of hypothermia and death."
New York Times
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