Family asks FBI to investigate teen's alleged suicide

The hanging death of a Lake Stevens teenager is raising difficult questions tonight. Was it suicide, or something worse? Heightening interest in the case is the fact that the young man was a black Muslim. His family wants answers, and they're getting supp

LAKE STEVENS -- By all accounts, Ben Keita was a solid kid.

He was never in trouble, always good student. He didn't even have a single social media account.

That is why his parents say none of what has happened makes any sense.

"My heart is broke because he was a very good kid," said Ben's mother Aissata.

Keita disappeared from his Lake Stevens home without a trace the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Lake Stevens Police ruled the death a suicide, but Ben's parents say the 18-year-old showed no signs of depression and had just enrolled in a second semester with the Running Start program.

He suffered from sickle cell anemia, and because of that, Ben wanted to become a doctor.

"He had such a good heart. We're still looking for the answer," said Ben's father Ibrahima. "What really happened?"

When the family pressed officials for more answers, the County Medical Examiner changed the manner of Ben's death to "undetermined" – meaning they know he was hanged, they just don't know how.
  
There were no signs of a struggle, but the autopsy report noted the body was found hanging unusually high off the ground and that the area had been previously searched with no sign of Ben.

Beneath all this is an undercurrent of racism emanating from America's current political climate.
  
The Keitas are a family of Muslim immigrants prompting the Council on American-Islamic Relations to ask the FBI to launch a formal investigation.

"We live in a very scary world right now," said State Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self.

Ortiz-Self is one of nine House democrats who signed a separate letter urging the FBI to investigate the possibility of the death being a hate crime.

"There's a lot of rhetoric that has given permission to people to come out of the woodwork," she said. "We've seen a lot of harassment, discrimination and hate crimes, unfortunately, throughout our Puget Sound area."

The FBI is "reviewing" the case which is one step short of a full investigation. An agency spokesperson says at this point investigators agree with Lake Stevens Detectives that there is no evidence pointing to foul play.

The Keitas say they are not accusing anyone of any wrongdoing, nor do they want to fan the flames of racism.

They simply want to know for certain why their son died, as any parent would.

"If we have to spend the rest of our lives looking for that reason," said Ibrahima, "we're going to keep fighting."

Anyone with any information about this case should call the Lake Stevens Police Department.

Copyright 2017 KING


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment