On the afternoon of July 31, 1986, the body of a young Black man was found hanging from a tree. The location was behind his family’s Silver Spring, Maryland residence. It would be another instance of suspicious individuals, a staged ”suicide,” a police force making things difficult, and a family searching for answers in the death of Keith Warren.
Young Keith Warren was 19-years old and planned on attending college in a month. According to his friend Rodney Kendell, most of his friends were white. This would be an important point when the investigation into suspects began. Following his parents’ divorce some years earlier, he stayed with his sister Sherri and his mother Mary Couey.
Discovery of Keith’s Body and Initial Findings
When emergency personnel reached the woods, they found the young man hanging from a small tree. He was low to the ground and the tree was bent because of Keith’s weight. Keith himself was located beneath forked branches in the sapling.
The rope used to hang Keith used a larger tree as support. In total, the length between the two trees was around 25 feet while the rope was 40 feet. There tends to be a general consensus among amateur sleuths and the family of Keith Warren that this was far from a suicide.
Even though something was obviously off about the whole scene, the police viewed it as a clear-cut suicide. The medical examiner would back up this observation. Without an autopsy, Keith’s body was sent to a funeral home be embalmed.
Keith’s mother was notified that he had died later that night. Between when this young man was found to when Mary Couey received the call was a period of roughly six hours.
Events Prior To Keith Warren’s Death
Something that really stood out to the family was that prior to his death, people were looking for him. These people couldn’t explain why they needed to find Keith. Mark Finley was one such person who stood out, but there was also a car with Black males that raised suspicion. Going back to friend Rodney Kendell’s point, most of his friends were white.
In the case of Mark Finley, he wasn’t a neighborhood regular and his last interaction with Keith ended in a fight, according to Sherri. In his interaction with Finley, Kendell said that Finley seemed anxious to find Keith. This was days after Rodney ran into the car full of men.
Mary Couey asked to see where Keith’s body was found only to find that the tree had been removed. Couey called the police and received a cold response about how they cut it down for evidence. The tree was cut down sometime in August. This was after police closed the case and ruled the death as a suicide on July 31, 1986.
From here on, Mrs. Couey and Sherri didn’t trust the police’s explanations on anything involving Keith. There were simply too many suspicious instances surrounding his death but now the police were adding to their concerns.
Mary attempted contact state and federal agencies to look into Keith Warren’s case. For six years, she wrote everyone only for no one to truly hear her out. On what would’ve been Keith’s 25th birthday there was a something of a breakthrough in the case.