Real Name: Keith Waddell Warren
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
Date: July 31, 1986
Details: Shortly before 2PM on July 31, 1986, the body of nineteen-year-old Keith Warren was found hanging from a tree in a wooded area near his home in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was just one month from starting college. He had lived with his mother, Mary Couey, and sister Sherri since his parents' divorce. At first, his family accepted the police's ruling that he had committed suicide, but as time progressed, several suspicious occurrences that happened before and after his death made his family suspect that he may have been murdered. The way he had apparently hung himself was practically impossible due to the small tree used and the fact that two ropes were used in the "suicide". Also, his family was not notified of his death nor was there an autopsy done but instead, his body was automatically sent to a funeral home.
In the days preceding his death, several people, including a man named Mark Finley, began searching for him, without explanation. Mark appeared to be especially concerned about finding him. Keith's friend Rodney Kendell was confused that Mark and the others were looking for him, as most of his friends were white. They were also not from their neighborhood. Sherri also remembered that Keith and Mark were not close; in fact, the last time that they had been together, they had gotten into a fight.
Also, there seemed to be no reason for him to commit suicide. A few weeks after the death, Rodney took Mary to the site where Keith had been hung and found that the tree that he was hanging from had been cut down by police; they said that it was "evidence", despite the fact that they had already closed the case. Mary no longer trusted the police and began her own search for answers.
After being stonewalled by police for six years, she received a shocking envelope on April 9, 1992, Keith's birthday. The manila envelope contained apparently official photographs from the crime scene, which showed him wearing clothes that weren't his, including white sneakers. The only clothing returned to the family were his jacket and brown boots, which were not seen in the photographs. Investigators confirmed that the pictures were official crime scene photographs. Leaves seen in the photos on the back of his shirt suggested that he had been laid on the ground and then hoisted up into the hanging position.
His body was soon exhumed for an autopsy. The surprising results showed that there were several deadly amounts of chemicals in it. It appeared that he had, in fact, been murdered, although some medical examiners claimed that the chemicals were from the embalming process. One examiner noted, however, that the original medical examiner did not mention using these substances in his report. Also, other substances not related to embalming fluid were found.
Strangely, the one person who may have had answers into his death ended up dead as well. Mark Finley, who had been searching for him in the weeks before his death, was mentioned in a letter that was with the photographs sent to Mary six years after his death. The letter claimed that "Mark Finley will be next". He soon contacted Mary, claiming that he wanted to visit her, saying that he wanted to "unload". However, one month later, he was found dead, apparently from hitting a curb and being thrown off his bike. However, his death appeared to be suspicious as well, and it is believed that both men may have been murdered. Whatever happened to Keith, his family wants to have answers.
Suspects: Mark Finley apparently made statements that alluded to his involvement in Keith's death; however, he died before he could be questioned further.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the February 23, 1996 episode.
Results: Unsolved. Sadly, in 2009, Mary Couey died without learning the truth about her son's death. However, his sister, Sherri, is still searching for the truth.
In August 2014, it was confirmed by the Montgomery County Maryland Police department that the investigating officer used "hearsay" from an unknown, undocumented and unrelated source to classify Keith Warren's death as a suicide at the time the body was found. The investigating detective then used the "suicide" determination to justify sending the body to the funeral home of his choice and having no autopsy performed. Sherri Warren, using the new information obtained in March 2014 has requested that the case be reopened and reclassified as of June 2014.
- Keith Warren on Unsolved.com
- "Justice For Keith Warren" Website
- Family continues fights for truth in 1986 hanging
- Sister on mission to prove brother didn’t take his own life
- Family of Keith Warren seeks to reopen case
- Keith Warren at Find a Grave