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Suicide eyed in census worker case

By: Janet Kim Email
By: Janet Kim Email

There are still many unanswered questions in the death of U.S. Census Worker Bill Sparkman, but investigators still say the case should be wrapped up sooner than later.

It's nearing two months since Sparkman's body was found in the Daniel Boone National Forest near Manchester. He was nude, with a rope around his neck, and the word "Fed" on his chest.

Kentucky State Police say they getting closer to finding out what happened.

"We do think it will be a matter of weeks, not days or months," says Kentucky State Police Sergeant Tom Atkin.

The Associated Press quotes annonymous officials as saying investigators are skeptical Sparkman was killed by someone angry at the government and are pursing the possiblity of suicide.

They say he had no defensive wounds, and even though his hands were bound with duct tape, they were still somewhat mobile.
But the investigator we talked to wouldn't comment.

"We can't address what anonymous sources are telling you at this time, I would suggest they have some personal reasons for bringing that forward," says Atkin.

All they will say is they hope to soon give Sparkman's family the answers they've been seeking.

"It's our hope they will have the same understanding as events as they unfolded as we do," says Atkin.

Police still remain tight lipped about the investigation, but they do tell us the results of the forensic tests should help in wrapping up the investigation quickly.

Kentucky State Police officials say they are still working with the FBI to solve the case.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Investigators probing the death of a Kentucky
census worker found hanging from a tree with the word "fed"
scrawled on his chest increasingly doubt he was killed because of
his government job and are pursuing the possibility he committed
suicide, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.

Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they
were not authorized to discuss the case, said no final conclusions
have been made in the case. In recent weeks, however, investigators
have grown more skeptical that 51-year-old Bill Sparkman died at
the hands of someone angry at the federal government.

The officials said investigators continue to look closely at
suicide as a possible cause of Sparkman's death for a number of
reasons. There were no defensive wounds on Sparkman's body, and
while his hands were bound with duct-tape, they were still somewhat
mobile, suggesting he could have manipulated the rope, the
officials said.

Sparkman's naked body was found Sept. 12 hanging from a tree yet
in contact with the ground in a remote patch of the Daniel Boone
National Forest near Manchester, Ky.

The strange case attracted national attention when it first came
to light, prompting worries that it may be a sign of increased
anger toward the federal government in the first year of Barack
Obama's presidency.

Authorities say Sparkman died of asphyxiation where his body was
found.

A spokesman for the FBI's Louisville field office declined to
discuss any aspects of the case.

Capt. Lisa M. Rudzinski, commander of the state police post in
London, declined to confirm that there was any new focus in the
probe.

"The Kentucky State Police are continuing to investigate the
death of William Sparkman and have yet to determine whether it is
homicide, suicide or accidental," Rudzinski said. "The
investigation is continuing."

If officials do determine Sparkman did not die because of his
government work, that would likely mean a less prominent role for
the FBI in the investigation, assisting the Kentucky authorities
but not preparing to bring a case to federal court.

Sparkman's adopted son has been adamant the case is murder, and
he is not alone in that opinion.

Jerry Weaver, one of the people who found the body during a
gathering at a family cemetery, remained certain the death was a
homicide. Weaver told The Associated Press this week that he
recalled Sparkman's hands being close together.

Weaver also said the rope, which he described as thin like a
clothes line, was wrapped around the high branches of two different
trees as if for leverage. Sparkman's truck was found nearby, and
Weaver said he saw Sparkman's clothes in the bed of the truck and a
census worker placard sitting on the dashboard.

Weaver had previously told the AP that the body was naked, bound
at the feet and hands, and gagged. He didn't see the word "fed"
on the chest but did notice there was an identification tag taped
to the side of his neck.

"He was put on display," Weaver said.

A friend of the dead man said he seemed as chipper as ever in
the days before his death.

Gilbert Acciardo, a retired Kentucky state trooper who directs
an after-school program at the elementary school where Sparkman was a frequent substitute teacher, said he spoke with Sparkman two or
three days before he died and saw no signs that he was upset about
anything.

"He was the same Bill Sparkman I always had contact with,"
Acciardo said. "I didn't notice any change in mood or behavior. He
came bouncing in like he always did, with a smile on his face,
cutting up with me."

Sparkman's body has been released for cremation, but Rudzinski,
the state police commander, said authorities are still waiting to
analyze some forensic evidence in the case.
----
McMurray reported from Lexington, Ky.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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