Hans Riemer Asks For Investigation Into the 1986 Death of Keith Warren
On Wednesday, Councilmember At-Large Hans Reimer sent a letter to County Executive Marc Elrich asking him to order an independent investigation into the Montgomery County Police Department’s handling of Keith Warren’s death.
Warren was found hanging from a tree on July 31, 1986 near his home in Silver Spring. The death was classified as a suicide but because of inconsistencies in the case, his family has long believed it to be a lynching.
“Many argue that the intricacy of the rope ties were too complicated to perform by one person. To add to the confusion, it was also stated that police did not determine a perimeter or close off the scene, they never interviewed his acquaintances, and an autopsy was never performed. His body was sent directly to a funeral home for embalming, even before his mother, Mary Couey, was notified of that decision. Warren’s mother and sister, Sherri, believed the death to be a lynching. They were able to review the files with Montgomery police detective Joe Mudano. He was also found in clothing and shoes that were not his own.
According to Keith’s mother, shortly before his death, she heard from a friend of Keith’s named Rodney Kendell that a group of suspicious people were looking for Keith. Several days after this, Kendell claimed he had another strange encounter, this time with a friend of Keith’s named Mark Finley, who was also looking for Keith”
The case was featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries in 1996. The portion on Keith Warren begins at the 32 minute mark.
April 14, 2021
County Executive Marc Elrich
Executive Office Building
101 Monroe Street, 2nd Floor
Rockville, MD 20850
County Executive Elrich,
I am writing to request that you order an independent investigation into the Montgomery
County Police Department’s handling of Keith Warren’s death. Mr. Warren was a young black
man found hanging from a tree in a wooded area near his home in Silver Spring in 1986.
An independent investigation should examine whether there is cause to re-classify Mr.
Warren’s cause of death from “suicide” to “unknown.” His family has found many troubling
inconsistencies in this case, which linger today despite previous reviews. We must dispel any
questions about our County government’s handling of this incident.
We may or may not be able to find out the true cause of death, but I strongly believe that
there is more uncertainty about the situation than is recognized by the County’s official position
and that the treatment of Mr. Warren and his family has been unfair and unreasonable. I have
talked with Mr. Warren’s sister, Sherri Warren. She has been fighting for decades, along with her
now deceased mother, to bring justice for her brother’s memory. She deserves our support and
recognition of Keith Warren’s humanity. An independent review to determine whether the cause
of death is actually “unknown” would provide that.