Black Then Mysteries: The Murder of Keith Warren Pt. II

0 Posted by - December 22, 2021 - Black History, BLACK MEN, Heartbreaking, Injustices, LATEST POSTS

Keith Warren was 19-years old when his life was cut short in July 1986. His death was ruled as a suicide by hanging but nothing about the scene pointed to that. Now, six years later, his mother receives something that would push the case forward.


April 9, 1992: The Manila Envelope

It was the afternoon of Keith Warren’s 25th birthday when Mary Couey found a manila envelope on her doorstep. In the six years prior, she had contacted several government agencies from state to federal to look into the case. The contents of the envelope—as grim as they were—would serve to move things forward.

Inside she found five pictures and a letter. The pictures showed Keith hanging from a tree in the spot where his body was found. While it was hard for her to look at the photos, she was able to notice several odd things in them. First, these weren’t Keith’s clothes—they didn’t fit him at all. Not only that, but he was wearing white sneakers.

This was concerning since the police returned Keith’s jacket and a pair of brown boots. As you may have guessed, neither could be found in the photos. While trust with the Montgomery Police was already compromised back in 1986, this solidified it. The police would also return two empty cases of wine coolers and said that some caps were found in his pockets.

As it would happen, things would get worse as more details arose. She hired a private investigator named Joe Alercia who looked into the origins of the photos. The police department eventually confirmed that they were from the department but couldn’t confirm how they would’ve gotten out.

Alercia drew a conclusion about the hanging itself from the photos. The leaves on the shirt stood out immediately. Alercia believes that Keith was lying on the ground prior to being put in that position by someone else. He also notes that the excessive amount of rope involved in the hanging means that the murderer or accomplices noticed that the sapling couldn’t hold Keith—hence the setup with two trees.


Further Police Inconsistencies

With these details, Keith’s family requested his body exhumed for an autopsy. It was found that the body had lethal amounts of chemicals. These chemicals would’ve been readily available commercially in products such as glue.

“These substances can get in there by inhalation, or they can actually even be taken in by mouth,” noted pathologist Dr. Isidore Mihalakis. “I believe that Keith Warren’s death being listed as suicide is medically not supportable.”

The state medical examiner looked at the report and stated that the chemicals were part of the embalming. Dr. Mihalaki refutes this because the embalmer’s report doesn’t list those as chemicals used. He also states that the chemicals found aren’t involved in embalming and that the amounts are more in line with inhalation.

Looking at the death certificate itself, a state coroner was listed as being at the scene but also not at the scene. What is known is that he didn’t confirm the death at all, an Officer Leverette did. The death certificate also lists the date of death as “July 30, 1987” when he was found July 31, 1986. Going back to the lack of a coroner observing the scene and confirming the death, when Keith Warren died exactly is up in the air.



The police stand by Keith Warren walking down the street with rope and wine coolers—uninterrupted—to go and hang himself in the woods near his home. A proper autopsy—which the county police glossed over–by a respected pathologist wouldn’t see them budge on this stance.

Dr. Mihalaki said that Keith inhaled the lethal amounts of toxins found. Private investigator Alercia believes that either Keith overdosed at a party and partygoers decided to paint this as a suicide or he was attacked and poisoned. A chemist that Alercia spoke with said that Keith would’ve been dead almost instantly after inhaling the chemical.

The partygoer theory would make sense if Mrs. Couey hadn’t received the note and the photos which were crime scene photos. She said that the note singled out Mark Finley, one of the people looking for Keith days before his death. It read “Don’t worry, Mark Finley will be next.”

Finley contacted Mary two months later and told her that he got her message. He said he would be around to see her and “I need to unload.” The following month, Finley was found dead. The cause of death: he was thrown from his bike after it hit a curb.

Mary Couey passed in 2009, to her dying day she continued to get answers about her son’s death. She worked with her daughter Sherri who continues the search via The Keith Warren Foundation and Keith Warren Justice Site.

-Case Discrepancies:

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