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Muslim teen found hanged in woods near Seattle; family seeks answers

Ben Keita, 18, was found hanged in the woods in Lake Stevens, a suburb north of Seattle.
Ibrahima Keita
Ben Keita, 18, was in the Running Start program at Everett Community College. In late November his family reported him missing. In January his body was found in a wooded area near his neighborhood.

A Lake Stevens family is asking the FBI to investigate the death of their teenage son. The young man, an African-American Muslim, was found hanged in the woods. The circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear.

Ben Keita was 18 years old. In November he was reported missing. He left without his car, wallet or phone.

Ibrahima Keita describes his son Ben as a happy, generous young man with plans for his life.

“He was planning to graduate this year from Lake Stevens High School,” said Keita. “He was already in the Running Start program at Everett Community College and he was dreaming of becoming a medical doctor and work as a medical examiner. Now those dreams are over.”

More than a month after his disappearance, Ben Keita’s body was found in the woods near the neighborhood.

Initially the case was ruled a suicide, but the Snohomish County Medical Examiner later changed the classification to undetermined.

Ibrahima Keita said his son has no history of mental illness. “No history of depression, anxiety, any psychological break down at all, so he was a very young, happy young man.”

The Keita family is asking the public to come forward with information that could help investigators.

Arsalan Bukhari of the Council on Islamic American Relations, or CAIR-Washington, has also asked the FBI to step in and thoroughly investigate the case.

“We want to make sure that the expertise, the experience, and the human resources of the FBI are brought in to make sure that everything is comprehensively investigated, no stone is left unturned and we really want to get answers about what may have happened,” said Bukhari.

In a statement, the FBI says it’s reviewing the Keita case. If warranted, it may conduct further investigation.

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Year started with KUOW: 1994