Lake Stevens police ask public for help in case of 18-year-old found hanging by rope from tree

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LAKE STEVENS, Wash. — Police said they have “not uncovered any indication of a criminal act” in the death of an 18-year-old found hanging from a tree, but called on the community Thursday to report anything they might have known about the man in the days before he died.

Ben 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.”

Keita’s family is asking anyone with information in the case to come forward.

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

In a news release Thursday, the Lake Stevens Police Department said, "Early in the investigation we discovered that, unknown to the family, Ben did not go to work on November 25 or 26, and had not been to school for about three weeks. This led us to expand our investigation to try and determine if any incident had led him to stop attending school and work, without notifying anyone.

"At this point, the investigation has not uncovered any indication of a criminal act, but we are asking the community to help shed light on Ben’s death. Specifically, if anyone has any information on:

 Why he stopped going to work and school;

 What his activities might have been in the weeks prior to November 26, 2016;

 Any information on any disputes, augments, or issues he might have had in recent months;

 Anything that might have been overheard or seen that might be relevant to this case."

Police asked the public to not hesitate to report anything they might know about the case. "The Lake Stevens Police Department has submitted physical items for lab review and we await their results to provide additional pieces of the picture."

The investigation into the death is continuing, police said.