By Frederick H. Lowe
The Council On American-Islamic Relations in Seattle has asked the FBI to investigate the death of an 18-year-old black Muslim man who was found hanged in a wooded area near his home in Lake Stevens, Wash.
Ben M. Keita, a senior at Lake Stevens High School, was reported missing on Nov. 27, 2016.
Lake Stevens police conducted helicopter and ground searches on November 30, December 1 and December 7 but were unsuccessful in finding him.
But on January 9th young people walking in the wooded area found Keita’s lifeless body hanging from a tree. His feet were eight feet off the ground, Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, tells NorthStarNewsToday.com/BlackMansStreet.Today.
The Snohomish County Medical Examiner initially ruled Keita’s death a suicide. It is not known if a suicide note was found.
The cause of death, however, was subsequently deemed undetermined for at least two reasons. One was that Keita’s family indicated that he was a happy young man who was doing well in school and that he had no history of either anxiety or depression. The other reason given is that the rope used in Keita’s hanging was tied 50 feet up in the tree. The possibility that Keita had been lynched crossed the minds of many in the black community.
On Tuesday, CAIR asked the FBI to open an investigation into the death and called for the public to come forward with any information.
Ibrahim Keita, the teenager’s father, said his son was about to graduate from high school and that he planned to attend college and then medical school to become a doctor.
Bukhari said Keita worked at McDonald’s but police did not question any of his co-workers, Bukhari said.
The FBI said it is reviewing the case, but has not opened a full investigation.
Lake Stevens is near Everett, Wash. and north of Seattle. The small city’s population is just under 30,000. Eighty-five percent of its population is white, and approximately 1.7% of its residents are African or African American.