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***Breaking–Kentucky Census Worker Bill Sparkman Killed Himself, Police Say


In this undated 2008 photo, Bill Sparkman speaks to a 7th grade class during a lesson about sound waves.

AP—A Kentucky census worker found naked, bound with duct tape and hanging from a tree with “fed” scrawled on his chest killed himself but staged his death to make it look like a homicide, authorities said Tuesday.

Bill Sparkman, 51, was found Sept. 12 with a rope around his neck near a cemetery in a heavily wooded area of the Daniel Boone National Forest in southeastern Kentucky. Authorities said his wrists were loosely bound, his glasses were taped to his head and he was gagged.

Kentucky State Police Capt. Lisa Rudzinski said an analysis found that “fed” was written “from the bottom up.” He was touching the ground, and to survive “all Mr. Sparkman had to do at any time was stand up,” she said.

Our investigation, based on evidence and witness testimony, has concluded that Mr. Sparkman died during an intentional, self-inflicted act that was staged to appear as a homicide,” Rudzinski said.

Authorities said Sparkman alone manipulated the suicide scene. Rudzinski said he “told a credible witness that he planned to commit suicide and provided details on how and when.”

Authorities wouldn’t say who Sparkman told of his plan, but said Sparkman talked about it a week before his suicide and the person did not take him seriously.

Friends and co-workers have said that even while undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, Sparkman would show up for work smiling with a toboggan cap to cover his balding head. They said he was punctual and dependable.

$600,000 in life insurance
Sparkman had recently taken out two accidental life insurance policies totaling $600,000 that would not pay out for suicide, authorities said. If Sparkman had been killed on the job, his family also would have been be eligible for up to $10,000 in death gratuity payments from the government.

Sparkman’s son, Josh, previously told The Associated Press that his father had named him as his life insurance beneficiary. Josh Sparkman said earlier this month he found paperwork for the private life insurance policy among his father’s personal files but wasn’t sure of the amount.

The Census Bureau suspended door-to-door interviews in the rural area after Sparkman’s body was found, but a spokesman said normal operations would resume in Clay County next month.

Anti-government sentiment was initially one possibility in the death. Authorities said Sparkman had discussed perceived negative views of the federal government in the county.

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Insurance Probed in Census Taker Bill Sparkman’s Death

Posted by Audiegrl

MANCHESTER-KY-largeAP/Jeffrey McMurray & Devlin Barrett— A census taker found hanging from a tree had named his son as his life insurance beneficiary, and investigators are looking into whether the father manipulated the death scene to make a claim possible, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press Thursday.

In an interview with AP, Josh Sparkman said he found paperwork for the private life insurance policy among his father’s personal files but wasn’t sure of the amount or when it was taken out. He said authorities have told him nothing about the case or produced a death certificate, which is usually needed to make an insurance claim.

Two law enforcement sources, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case, said investigators are trying to determine if Bill Sparkman committed suicide but altered the scene to make it look like a homicide, allowing his son to collect. Life insurance policies typically do not cover suicides within a certain period of time after the policy starts.

Josh Sparkman said he is convinced his father was slain, in part because there were several items missing and apparently stolen from his car.

If it’s deemed suicide, there’s no point in even looking at insurance,” Josh Sparkman said. “There’s no such thing as suicide insurance. The money is not the concern. I just want to know what happened to my dad.

More @ Associated Press

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Intrigue in Pebble Beach– a curious case of art theft 

posted by GeoT

Pebble Beach California, Click above for full sized image

Pebble Beach California, Click above for full sized image

By Scott Herhold

Eleven days ago, two Pebble Beach men reported an extraordinary art theft that has become more extraordinary as the news has dribbled out. The pair told Monterey County

Two Pebble Beach residents say this painting by Miro was stolen... ( Courtesy of Angelo Amadio )

Two Pebble Beach residents say this painting by Miro was stolen... ( Courtesy of Angelo Amadio )

sheriff’s deputies that thieves had broken into their expensive rental home and taken more than $60 million of art, including works by Jackson Pollock, Rembrandt, Matisse and Miro.

If the owners’ estimates were correct, the theft may be second in value only to the most famous 1990 heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, where thieves posing as policeman tied up two guards and escaped with works by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Degas. That theft, which has never been solved, has been pegged at $300 million.

Stolen drawing described as Dutch Woman by Vincent Van Gogh

Stolen drawing described as 'Dutch Woman' by Vincent Van Gogh

But an odd reaction has come from the art world. In my reporting, I’ve detected skepticism about aspects of the crime, particularly about the lack of insurance and the finding of a ransom note a few days after sheriff’s deputies combed through the house. “No one in their right mind brings a collection like that to a private home without security,” said Thomas McShane, an ex-FBI agent who has written a book about art theft and contends that the Pebble Beach report raises red flags.
“You have to have those works in a secure facility. You’re jeopardizing the integrity of the art by leaving them around unsecured.”

Two Pebble Beach residents say this drawing by Renoir was stolen

Two Pebble Beach residents say this drawing by Renoir was stolen

The men who reported the theft, Angelo Benjamin Amadio, 31, and retired oncologist Dr. Ralph Kennaugh, 62, both recently arrived in California from Boston and describe themselves as “business partners.” They told deputies that thieves apparently climbed through an unlocked window at their $5 million rental home on Sunridge Road, a stucco-and-stone villa with a view of the ocean.

Then, a week ago, came a bombshell. The men announced that a ransom note — which included a death threat — had been found in the home, apparently missed in the initial search. The sheriff’s department put out a release saying the disclosure of this evidence to the media might have compromised the “integrity of the investigation.” A round of finger-pointing ensued.

Cont’d: Here.

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