FBI officials have confirmed that they are reviewing the hanging death of a Black, Muslim teen after a Washington State medical examiner changed the cause of death from suicide to undetermined.
According to KIRO 7, 18-year-old Ben Keita, disappeared on Nov. 26 and in January, his body was found hanging from a tree in a wooded area near his home. His family urged officials to look into their son’s death as a homicide given that Ben didn’t have a history of suicidal thoughts, anxiety or depression.
“We believe that somewhere, someone must know something about this case, and we urge people to come forward and contact the police,” Ibrahima Keita, Ben’s father told the press, according to Q13 Fox.
In a statement, the FBI said that they “[are] communicating with our police partners. We are aware of circumstances of the individual’s death and will review them with consideration of federal law. If warranted, we may conduct further investigation.”
But they were clear: “A review does not necessarily result in the opening of an investigation.”
The ME changed their report findings based on two factors: A K-9 search of the same area weeks earlier failed to find his body and the rope he was hanged with was tied an unusual 50 feet high in the tree.
It’s unknown if anti-Muslim sentiment and/or racial bias played a role in the teenager’s tragic death.