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Case file released: No sign of struggle or foul play in death of 18-year-old found hanging by rope from tree

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. — The police investigation case file into the hanging death of a black 18-year-old man in Lake Stevens shows police found no sign of a struggle or foul play, the Everett Herald reported Friday.

The newspaper said the Lake Stevens Police Department recently closed its investigation into Ben Keita’s death. He was found hanging by a rope from a tree on Jan. 9 in a wooded area of Lake Stevens.

On Friday, 195 pages of the case file were released under state public records laws, the Herald said. Police found no sign of a struggle or foul play, the records show. There was no injuries except those caused by the rope, according to the report, the newspaper said.

No evidence turned up evidence that Keita had been bullied, the report said.

Keita, 18, of Lake Stevens, was reported missing by his family on Nov. 26; he left home in the early morning hours that day, police said. His body was found hanging by a rope from a tree on Jan. 9 in a wooded area of Lake Stevens.

Lake Stevens police said the county medical examiner first ruled Keita’s death a suicide but later changed the finding to “undetermined.”

Despite the police closure of the case, Keita’s family still does not believe that the man committed suicide and they still hope that someone will come forward with more information, the Herald reported.

“Ben was a happy, young man,” said Ben's father, Ibrahima Keita, said on March 2. “We believe that somewhere, someone must know something about this case and we urge people to come forward and contact the police.”