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

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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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Breaking News—FBI: Sparkman Was Found Touching Ground, Not Hanging From Tree

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Bill Sparkman Was a 51-Year-Old Single Father Pursuing Teaching Degree

Bill Sparkman Was a 51-Year-Old Single Father Pursuing Teaching Degree

TPMMuckraker/Zachary Roth—Bill Sparkman, the Census worker found dead in Kentucky recently was not found hanging from a tree, according to an FBI spokesman. Rather, David Beyer told TPMmuckraker, Sparkman’s feet were planted on the ground. A rope around Sparkman’s neck was attached to a tree.

An anonymously sourced AP report said that Sparkman was hanging from a tree, and that he had the word “Fed” scrawled on his chest.

Beyer, a spokesman with the FBI’s Louisville, Kentucky filed office, declined to comment on the accuracy of the “Fed” detail. But he was at pains to ratchet back speculation that Sparkman was killed in an act of anti-government sentiment, saying that investigators had not yet determined even whether the death was a homicide.

Previous reporting “left the impression that [Sparkman] was found strung up in a tree because he was a federal employee,” Beyer said. “At this juncture that’s not accurate.” Beyer added that Sparkman died of asphyxiation.

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Area where census worker died has troubled history @ Associated Press

***Update from TPM: The local coroner has confirmed that the word “Fed” had been written on Bill Sparkman’s chest when he was found dead earlier this month.

Jim Trosper, the Clay County coroner, confirmed the information to TPMmuckraker moments ago, adding that the word appeared to have been written in felt tip marker. He declined to give additional details.

***New AP Update: Witness: Census worker’s hanging body naked, bound

Jerry Weaver of Fairfield, Ohio, told The Associated Press on Friday that he was among a group of relatives who discovered the body of 51-year-old Bill Sparkman on Sept. 12.

“The only thing he had on was a pair of socks,” Weaver said. “And they had duct-taped his hands, his wrists. He had duct tape over his eyes, and they gagged him with a red rag or something.

“And they even had duct tape around his neck. And they had like his identification tag on his neck. They had it duct-taped to the side of his neck, on the right side, almost on his right shoulder.”

Weaver said he couldn’t tell if the tag was a Census Bureau I.D. He said he didn’t get close enough to read it.

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