September 26, 2009

The death of a census worker.

"A part-time census worker found hanging in a rural Kentucky cemetery was naked, gagged and had his hands and feet bound with duct tape.... The word 'fed' was written in felt-tip pen on 51-year-old Bill Sparkman's chest... 'The only thing he had on was a pair of socks... 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.' Authorities have refused to say if Sparkman was at work going to door-to-door for census surveys before he died."

Can we speculate about what happened here? If I had to guess, I'd say that Sparkman, doing his census work, encountered a criminal enterprise — perhaps a drug lab — out where people thought no one would — or should — be coming around.

59 comments:

AllenS said...

Census workers just don't go out in any random direction and gather data. It should be relatively easy to find out his whereabouts that day. I think there something else here, that doesn't involve census taking.

The Drill SGT said...

few other details in the case, such as whether they think it was an accident, suicide or homicide.

hard to be suicide when your hands and feet are duct taped.

Reminds me of a suicide I heard about. Tragic case. guy shot himself in the back 3 times with a double barrelled 12 gauge.

Stephen Snell said...

i think meth lab or moonshine is plausible (don't snicker re the moonshine).

i also think the narrative is going to be that regardless of the facts, this is evidence of the violent nature of all of the tea party movement.

OT, but does anyone have that Ayn Rand Apollo-Woodstock column link? Couldn't find a good one on the internets.

Rialby said...

Maybe he was attacked by lefties heading east towards Pittsburgh where they planned to engage in nihilistic, anti-American behavior.

Florida said...

I also think the narrative is going to be that regardless of the facts, this is evidence of the violent nature of all of the Tea Party movement.

Meanwhile, actual videotaped evidence of left violence in Pittsburgh at the G20 goes unremarked upon. (I didn't notice any of the hundreds of thousands of marchers on Washington wearing face-masks. Did you?)

What should be noted is that the left has to search high and low for some plausible evidence of potential violence on the right.

It is trivial to find thousands of cases of violence on the left - starting with terrorist bombers Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, personal friends of the President of the United States, who have actually killed police officers and gotten away with it.

Ben J. said...

Obviously, it was Obama supporters.

As we all know, they are the only actual racists left in America; and the only people prone to violence.

Clearly, it was a plot to make peace-loving, tolerant ring-wing extremists look bad.

Rialby said...

Ben - Totally agree with you. Good to have another sane voice on Althouse.

traditionalguy said...

The meme of violent southern red necks hating the Federal Government and its President since 1860 is so outdated and so bigoted that it must make people using it for their political advantage ashamed of their evil souls.

rhhardin said...

"The Death of a Census Worker" sounds like a leftist play to torture high school students with.

alan markus said...

Sounds like an episode of "Law & Order", "ripped from the headlines" in the making.

Start with a few key changes: make the victim a long-haired, blonde, female community organizer from New York who goes missing in a rural area (defined as any area with a population density lower than a major city) while doing voter registration. Add evidence of sexual assault, and the rest of the story will write itself.

Rialby said...

Alan - Ha.

After watching the last 5 seasons of all the L&Os, I already know who did it. It was either a Big Pharma executive trying to hide evidence of criminal negligence or a band of neo-Nazi skinheads who live in a loft down in SOHO.

EDH said...

A census taker once tried to test me...

miller said...

Not enough information to determine what happened and who did it. Speculation is all we have here.

But I lean toward the "he found out something he shouldn't have."

And then from there, it's what did he find out, where was it, and who was doing it.

SteveR said...

Rachel Maddow lead off her show the other night with this, angling for the crazed tea bagger angle.

jayne_cobb said...

Apparently over 40 people have been arrested for dealing drugs within the general vicinity in the past month alone.


I'm guessing meth lab.

Jason said...

You better stay away from Copperhead Road.

campy said...

Reminds me of a suicide I heard about. Tragic case. guy shot himself in the back 3 times with a double barrelled 12 gauge.

Wait, don't tell me ... his wife found the body.

hillbilly said...

They grow a whole lot of dope in the Daniel Boone National forest.

edutcher said...

The last I heard, the local police said the AP story was full of holes, so garage, phos, and the rest of the sophisticates might want to hold their fire on the Althouse Hillbillies until the facts are clearer.

Hey, there's a first time for everything.

Unless...

Althouse, you minx ;)

PatCA said...

I think Law & Order would have a bunch of crazed White Christian Males killing him because they found out he was pro-choice.

I watched the season opener for "laughs" since it was a story on how courageous Head DA was prosecuting a law prof who wrote torture memos during the Bush Administration. And the nasty Obama DOJ wanted to put the kibosh on it! We're all guilty! We're all evil! Amerikkka!

If anything happens to John Woo, can his family sue the media?

The Drill SGT said...

PatCA said...
I watched the season opener for "laughs"


I used to love the show. Haven't watched in several years though. It became too political for me.

those "cases torn from the headlines always turned out PC"

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm guessing meth lab

Ditto. Census workers in Humboldt, Siskiyou, Shasta, Trinity Counties in California need to be careful too.

You can't get off into the woods or National Park lands without running into pot gardens or meth labs in run down trailers. This is why we are always armed if we decide to go boonie bouncing. 2nd amendment FTW.


Besides the drug cartels, there are just a bunch of people who don't like to be around other people and don't want ANY government intrusion. This doesn't excuse them for killing this poor man, but it reminds me of the argument we were having about rape. Don't put yourself into a dangerous situation unless you are prepared to defend yourself.

The Drill SGT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Drill SGT said...

I was about to make the same comment that DBQ made once I saw it was in a National Forest.

the NW part of California is a no man's land of drug labs and minefields around dope patches in the middle of the forest

Der Hahn said...

If this crime was committed meth makers/pot growers/moonshiners, then why the (reported) public display of the desecrated body? Wouldn't it be more effective to simply have the guy disappear instead of drawing attention to themselves?

kynefski said...

Yeah, so I'm running a meth lab that this guy stumbles across. I'm presumably armed to the teeth and could drop him into a gully. But, instead, I strip him and hang him up. Makes sense to me.

I'm out of here before there's a serious discussion that this is the work of community organizers seeking to promote hatred of the poor people trying to defend their freedom and get their country back.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Wouldn't it be more effective to simply have the guy disappear instead of drawing attention to themselves?

Deterrence. Would you take a day trip or go hiking in that area....NOW?

If he simply disappeared you might think he got eaten by a bear or in my territory also a mountain lion. This way there is no doubt who the predators are.

kentuckyliz said...

The TEA party angle doesn't fly with this story. Clay County is one of the most Democrat counties in KY.

It's renowned for corrupt politics--vote buying, murdering competing candidates, this is just the past couple of years.

I couldn't get a Clay County speeding ticket fixed a couple of years ago because of the political brouhaha taking place at the time.

The murderers are probably more like ACORN scum than TEA partyers.

kentuckyliz said...

I used to work for some bail bondsmen/bounty hunters, right before I moved to E KY. They told me they'd rather go bounty hunting in Mexico than Eastern Kentucky.

The Drill SGT said...

Deterrence. Would you take a day trip or go hiking in that area....NOW?

Like DBQ said... these guys rig claymores with trip wires around marijuana patches in the forest. lose one and walk away, but traffic elsewhere in the forest will be way down

that is not subtle...

alan markus said...

Doing a "google-news" search I find that the media is already pontificating on the connection to anti-goverment attitudes, tea party participants, etc.

edutcher makes a good point - some of the media accounts are speculative at this time & all details have not been revealed yet. Obviously that has not stopped the media from correlating this to our political environment.

I'm going to speculate that is a case of auto erotic asphyxiation gone bad. The cemetary setting, feet touching the ground, duct tape, etc. If another person was involved & this was an accidental death, that might explain some of the staging at the scene to make it look like murder.

I think Law & Order SVU has covered auto erotic asphyxiation before. This situation is bizzare enough that they could get a whole seasons worth of episoded off of this one. However, is it my understanding that actor David Carradine has rendered himself unavailable to make a guest appearance?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

My husband used to work for a repo company about 20 years ago. He said he wouldn't go into Humboldt County to repo a car unless he was with 3 other people and they were all armed. Even then when it was only mostly pot and survivalist communes. It is worse now.

SMGalbraith said...

Apparently, before Obama was elected there weren't anti-government sentiments in America.

Even among the drug crowd. Before the election of Obama, strangers and families could walk all around drug areas and nothing would happen.

Nope, all of these anti-government thoughts were planted there by those wingnuts.

In January 2001.

For the left, the conservative/right is just one big blob. It's all the same yahoos and racists and fascists and anyone who expresses opposition to national healthcare is really no different than the militias who believe that the Trilateral Commission runs the nation.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm going to speculate that is a case of auto erotic asphyxiation gone bad.

I'm going to speculate that space aliens captured him and did an anal probe that went bad and felt that they needed to quickly hide their plans to take over the earth through their surrogate androids that can smile consistently and constantly. Did you SEE that Obama smile? He must be one of those.... How about Pelosi. Does her face ever move. She must be one of them too!!!

Yeah...by making this look like a murder, the aliens are buying themselves time. We are doomed....doomed I tell you.


OR.... I can speculate a common sense answer. He ran across some illegal activities and was made an example of by being hung in a place he would be found.

Sheesh. Why go and make up ridiculous stories when the answer is really pretty obvious.

kentuckyliz said...

In Clay County (and some others in South Central KY), drug lords have run for and won office...county judge executive, sherriff.

It's not anti government, it's not anti law enforcement, it's anti law ENFORCEMENT. That's not what all the druggies of Clay County voted for! They put a druggie friend in the sheriff spot so they wouldn't be bothered by the police.

Sparkman moved to KY to run the Boy Scouts. Does that suggest another angle to this story? Maybe he was a child molester and somebody got their retribution for fondling their kid.

Hiking through the marked trails of the National Forest is safe, just don't stray from them. The drug plots are deep woods away from the trails.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Maybe he was a child molester and somebody got their retribution for fondling their kid.


Then why didn't they use the Sharpie marker to write "homo" or "pervert" instead of "FED"?

If you want to get retribution, wouldn't you like to have people know what for?

kentuckyliz said...

hahn, kynefski:
potheads and methheads are renowned for their logical abilities. You know, they do so well in school.

The Drill SGT said...

Sheesh. Why go and make up ridiculous stories when the answer is really pretty obvious.

I think Liz and DBQ and I are saying DRUGS. Could be leftist druggie business people or right wing druggie business people, but expect to find drugs in the mix when you are talking about murder in a National Forest.

Notice it wasn't a gun crime? must be those leftist anti-gun druggies :)

j/k

kentuckyliz said...

The anti-fed feelings in the mountains run deep. Moonshiners, revenuers, led to fast cars and NASCAR!

Ralph L said...

I used to love the show. Haven't watched in several years though. It became too political for me.

those "cases torn from the headlines always turned out PC"
Same here. (DBQ beat me to "ditto") At least the original hasn't degenerated to soap opera, just soap box.

I was thinking last night that I mostly watch crime shows on TV, and they're all freaky murders. Wonder what percentage of murders are young black or Hispanic men killing other young men? 80%? Guess that's too boring.

VW - niopit -- not going to go there.

Ralph L said...

The anti-fed feelings in the mountains run deep
Paradoxically, they were also Unionists (few slaves).

alan markus said...

Ms. Althouse asked for speculation here, not a jury decision.

A few points from a story that came up (http://chattahbox.com/us/2009/09/26/mystery-deepens-census-worker-was-nude-bound-and-gagged/):

"Sparkman’s truck was spotted nearby with his computer still inside." (which would show who he saw & who he hadn't gotten to yet. Would certainly narrow things down a bit for the benefit of investigators.)

"Bill Sparkman’s elderly mother, Henrie Sparkman resides in Florida and was told by authorities that her son’s body was decomposed, and it would be better for her son to be cremated. She told the AP that she had her own theories of what happened to her son. “I have my own ideas, but I can’t say them out loud. Not at this point,” she said." (how legible would the writing be on a decomposed body? Wonder what the mother's own theories are, the ones that can't be said out loud?)

"But there is no evidence linking Sparkman’s death to illegal meth labs or marijuana fields. Local law enforcement acknowledged that such illegal activity exists in remote areas of rural Kentucky, but have not found any sites in the area that Sparkman’s body was found." (I guess he could have been transported from a different area, but then, what would the motivation be to display the body off location?)

bearing said...

Another possible scenario: he wasn't actually on federal business -- hiking in the national forest? -- when he stumbled on illegal activity. He had a Census ID card in his possession and the thugs decided that was reason enough to make an example out of him.

bearing said...

Local law enforcement acknowledged that such illegal activity exists in remote areas of rural Kentucky, but have not found any sites in the area that Sparkman’s body was found." (I guess he could have been transported from a different area, but then, what would the motivation be to display the body off location?)

Um, because when the body was found, the cops would start looking for illegal activity near it?

LonewackoDotCom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LonewackoDotCom said...

Here's a list of around twenty people who are politicizing this case.

What they're trying to do is to get the idea out there that BeckBachmannRush were involved in some way, and then when the details come out and it was probably deranged methheads by that time it will be too late. There also appears to be a Journolist component, with recent entries saying basically the same thing.

If anyone wants to do something to prevent such politicization in the future, remember what those sources are saying now, and hold it against them in the future.

Der Hahn said...

bearing, it would be reasonable to read that statement to indicate that the local police have not found illegal activity in the area in the past.

I hate to spoil the fun of spinning tales about moonshiners and pot growers, but but some of the information being presented in comments as fact is being disputed

.. police had not confirmed Sparkman was even doing census work in Clay County at the time he died, said Capt. Lisa Rudzinski, commander of the state police post handling the investigation.

One media report — which quoted a census official saying a computer Sparkman used for census work was found in his truck near the cemetery — wasn’t true, Rudzinski said.

Police found Sparkman’s red pickup truck, but the computer wasn’t in it, she said.
...

Sparkman had a rope around his neck that was attached to a tree, but he was not hanging in the sense that many people envision, she said.

Sparkman’s body was in contact with the ground, state police said in a news release.

News that Sparkman had the word "fed" on his chest came to the Associated Press from a law enforcement official who requested anonymity.

The official did not tell the AP what was used to scrawl the word on Sparkman.


Sparkman, while not a native, was a local resident.

Sparkman was also a substitute teacher in Laurel County and helped at an after-school daycare program at Johnson Elementary School, said Gilbert Acciardo Jr., director of the school’s family resource center.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Police found Sparkman’s red pickup truck, but the computer wasn’t in it, she said.
...


Well, then....that solves it. Some moonshiner is now playing World of Warcraft on his new laptop. After all it is Brewfest.

John Lynch said...

If they fed him... what was his last meal?

Big Mike said...

I had been assuming that Sparkman stumbled across a collection of undocumented immigrants who got spooked by his questions and thought he must be INS.

alan markus said...

"Fed" or "F'ed" - did see "Deliverance" mentioned in a news article setting up the image of a wilderness area in the south -kind of a heads up for any necro types that have high standards. Or maybe the apostrophe had already decomposed or the person who wrote it didn't know how to punctuate.

Relatively new to this, but does Althouse issue some kind of prize for the first commenter who ultimately gets it right?

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Once two strangers climbed on rocky top,
Lookin for a moonshine still.
Strangers aint come back from rocky top,
Guess they never will.

alan markus said...

One more thing (it really isn't my intention to hijack this post), I bet this is being checked out by the authorities (EasternKYcraigslist - note date & location):

"need a teacher/mentor? (ky-wv-oh tri-state)

Date: 2009-09-08, 3:01PM EDT

looking for those who need a teacher-mentor wanting to learn about man to man fun. i'm older but not a troll i am a good and patient teacher.

•Location: ky-wv-oh tri-state

PostingID: 1364383794"

Teacher? Mentor (i.e., Boy Scouts)? Ability to travel?

As his mother said, “I have my own ideas, but I can’t say them out loud. Not at this point."

Lionheart said...

Some fun making sport of murder. Good Saturday snark folks. Morons.

traditionalguy said...

The MSNBC crew will want to know where Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck were at the time of this viscious political act of mindless violence.

Don said...

I'm from West Virginia. There are a lot of people in Appalachia that don't like "feds." There are plenty of stories about revenue agents poking around and not coming back going back a long, long time. I had a girlfriend who once paid part of her college tuition at a very nice private school in western Virginia by delivering moonshine. She stopped after her 'nice' boss threatened her with a gun when she returned late from a run. I had another friend whose father went to prison in Virginia a long time for his second or third moonshining offense. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these guys would simply believe that one fed is pretty much the same as another and this census guy would report them if he noticed something.

Revenant said...

Reminds me of a suicide I heard about. Tragic case. guy shot himself in the back 3 times with a double barrelled 12 gauge.

Well, he'd been depressed. :)

Seriously though, my first thought when I read about this was the same as Ann's. The guy probably happened onto a meth lab and got killed. He was in the right place for it.

Big Mike said...

I'm holding out for undocumented immigrants who thought from all the personal questions he was asking that he was INS.

Don said...

Well its refreshing to find one place on the web at least where Michelle Bachmann has not been tried and convicted of the murder. Over on Huffington Post its all "Michelle Bachmann suggested the scope of census questions may have exceeded the bounds of what is appropriate, therefore she is directly responsible for inciting this murder." On TPM Muckraker, its all "Bachmann invented stories about Japanese internment camps which all good dems know could never have happened under St. FDR, therefore the poor hicks in rural KY had no choice than to murder this man." Pathetic really.