Kentucky census death ruled suicide

  • Article by: NEWS SERVICES
  • Updated: November 24, 2009 - 9:26 PM

Kentucky census worker apparently staged a brutal-looking homicide scene in a ruse.

FRANKFORT, KY. - A Census Bureau worker found naked and strangled in rural Kentucky -- a death that sparked fear of anti-government violence -- committed suicide, 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. He was bound with duct tape and hanging from a tree with "fed" scrawled on his chest.

Authorities said it was a suicide staged to appear as a homicide, perhaps in attempt to preserve payments under life insurance policies that he had taken out.

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.

Rudzinski said Sparkman "told a credible witness that he planned to commit suicide and provided details on how and when."

Authorities wouldn't identify that witness but said Sparkman talked about his plan a week before his suicide and the person did not take him seriously. He told the person he believed his lymphoma, which he had previously been treated for, had recurred, police said.

Authorities said Sparkman alone manipulated the suicide scene.

Sparkman also had recently taken out two accidental life insurance policies totaling $600,000 that would not pay out for suicide, authorities said. One policy was taken out in late 2008; the other in May.

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.

The bizarre details of the death caused a firestorm of media coverage and widespread speculation on the Internet, including that someone angry at the federal government attacked

Sparkman as he went door to door, gathering census information. There has been some anti-census sentiment in the country this year, and Sparkman apparently tried to capitalize on that with his ruse.

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