A 16-year-old girl who was found dead on the side of a South Seattle highway in October was fatally strangled, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The body of Keyaleas Brewer was discovered early Oct. 7 on the side of Highway 509, south of the First Avenue Bridge. Though the medical examiner identified her later that month, the office announced Friday that she died from asphyxia due to strangulation. Her death was ruled a homicide.
King County Sheriff’s Sgt. Corbett Ford said Tuesday that the investigation into Brewer’s death is active and ongoing, but detectives have not provided additional updates in the case. There have been no arrests.
In the wake of Brewer’s death, the Sheriff’s Office asked anyone who was driving south on Highway 509 early Oct. 7 between the bridge and the Highway 518 interchange to contact investigators with dashboard camera footage or reports of any suspicious activity, like stopped cars or people in the roadway.
The exact circumstances of Brewer’s death remain unclear.
Strangulation deaths, which disproportionately affect women, are generally uncommon and have decreased dramatically since passage of the federal Violence Against Women Act in 1994.
While prosecutors in Washington used to have to prove that a person lost consciousness or control of bodily function for strangulation to be charged as a felony, state law was changed in 2007 to recognize strangulation as one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence.
Nearly half of all strangulation victims don’t have visible injuries, and unlike in many dictionary definitions, medical and legal terminology doesn’t necessarily define strangulation as a fatal act. Second-degree assault by strangulation is the most frequently filed domestic-violence felony in King County.
Investigators ask anyone with information about Brewer’s death to call the Sheriff’s tip line at 206-296-3311.