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Officials: Census worker hanged himself

By Ed O'Keefe

By Ed O'Keefe and Carol Morello

Updated 2:43 p.m. ET

The Census Bureau employee found dead in September killed himself and staged his death to look like a homicide, state and federal law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

William E. Sparkman Jr. died of asphyxiation and was found with hands, feet and mouth bound with duct tape, a rope around his neck and the word "FED" written on his chest, investigators concluded. Passersby spotted his body on Sept. 12 in a remote area of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Witnesses said Sparkman had discussed ending his own life, recent federal investigations of public officials in Kentucky and negative perceptions of federal agencies expressed by Clay County, Ky. residents, investigators said.

Sparkman also secured two life insurance policies that would not pay out for suicide shortly before his death, investigators said. Authorities decided to share some, but not all of the details of their investigation on Tuesday due to the high level of national interest.

Sparkman was a substitute teacher and one of 5,900 part-time Census field workers that conduct the annual American Community Survey and dozens of other government surveys each year. Such workers are typically called in by the Census Bureau for assignments as needed. The agency said it will hire roughly 700,000 temporary workers to conduct follow-up interviews for next year's decennial Census.

Normal census operations will resume in Clay County next month, Census spokesman Stephen Buckner said.

“The death of our co-worker, William Sparkman, was a tragedy and remains a loss for the Census Bureau family,” Buckner said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Gilbert Acciardo, a former state trooper who worked with Sparkman at an after-school day-care program, said that Sparkman gave him no clues that he was contemplating suicide. Sparkman had been treated for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, but told Acciardo that it was under control. Nevertheless, he said he was confident in the results of the investigation.

"If that's what they say, because they are the professionals," Acciardo said when told of the findings. "With the time frame they worked on it, and the thoroughness of the investigation, it sounds like a reasonable statement."

Violence against Census employees is extremely rare, according to the agency. Field workers receive safety tips as part of their basic training and are instructed to immediately remove themselves from unsafe situations and to inform supervisors if they consider an area too unsafe to work alone.

Twenty work-related Census Bureau deaths have occurred since 1998, according to agency records. During the 2000 Census, 13 workers died in automobile accidents, and an Indiana employee was attacked and killed by a pack of dogs. Since then, two employees of the agency's New York regional office died on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001 and four others have died in automobile deaths.

RELATED: Previous Federal Eye reporting on the Census killing

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By Ed O'Keefe  | November 24, 2009; 11:53 AM ET
Categories:  Census  
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The dead census worker. The same fellow that lefties tried to lay at the feet of conservative talkers. Nice try goofballs.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | November 24, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Sad on many levels. He could have made it look like an accident (like driving off a bridge) instead of making it look like a murder (wasting police time and implicating innocent people).

Posted by: chunche | November 24, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I just checked the Huffington Post from September when this story first broke ...
several articles on how this was a murder and "right wingers" and "conservative talk radio" was to blame ... a link to Rachel Madow where she asks if Rep. Bachman had "encouraged" people to do this.

Now that we no Sparkman was a fraud (or at least attempted it) when are all the other left wing frauds going to eat some crow?

Posted by: fjh3q | November 24, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

What is amazing is that anyone believes that he staged his suicide- sounds more like police incompetence or cover-up.

Posted by: pgrundy90 | November 24, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

>>>"Now that we no Sparkman was a fraud (or at least attempted it) when are all the other left wing frauds going to eat some crow?"<<<

Right after the right wing frauds learn to spell - likely never.

Posted by: LenB | November 24, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Remember the McCain staffer who said Obama supporters attacked her and carved a "B" into her cheeck? Yeah, glad there was no premature outrage from the right when that happened.

Posted by: Tripp74 | November 24, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The right always exposes itself -- especially at a toilet bowl site such as, for the days of Phil Graham & Ben Bradlee!) -- as hall-monitor authority groupies. 'Cause the Feds say it was suicide, it must be suicide!

And look at the stinking bile in these incoherent posts, dealing with the death of a man. Doesn't take much for the baboon right to show its miserable life-hatred, does it?

Posted by: Paladin22 | November 24, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Were sorry right wing nuts, we were wrong,



P.S Do you crybaby whiners feel better?

Posted by: ged0386 | November 24, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Twanna Brawley Redux!

Lying, fraudulent ACORN, False Global Warming Democrat Criminal Scumbags!

If a Democrat is running its dung filled mouth - its lying!

Democrats are pure evil. Worse thing that ever happened to America is the Democrud Stalin Party!

Posted by: C0rrupt_0_Crats | November 24, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Ummm...excuse me people who say the "lefties' tried to blame conservative talk show hosts. I am not a lefty and I believed he was killed when this first came out. Under the circumstances and the amount of information being released, it seemed to make sense because there was a lot of negative rhetoric being expoused by conservatives. And the authorities didn't make things any better by saying he had his hands tied behind his back. Of course the first thing people are going to suspect is that it was foul play. In the original posts, many "lefties" were suspicious because the news available said suicide was a possibility, but never gave the reason why they thought it was a possibility. So, when you hear there's a hanging and a person's arms taped behind them, I think it's only natural to assume that foul play is involved. If anything, this should be a teachable moment to ALL not to jump to conclusions (oh, I's just the "lefties" that do that).

Posted by: vifi7 | November 24, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Only when people like fjh3q learn the difference between "know" and "no."

Posted by: phfyrebyrd | November 24, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Corrupt -- How does Tywanna Brawley and ACORN fit into this? And as for Democrats being pure must be kidding. Have you ever heard of the book "Republican Gommorah." The author might be an outright leftist, but his stories are accurate. Look at today's republicans. They put Miss California on a pedastal for no other reason then her opposing same-sex marriages. Yet, this is an extremely vain woman, who not only participated in pornography, but ran around in barely any clothes for millions of viewers. Is that the ideal of a good, Christian woman in the conservative's minds?

Posted by: vifi7 | November 24, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

ged0386 -

"Were sorry right wing nuts, we were wrong"

Don't feel bad. Nobody expects mindless and hateful liberals to right about anything anyway.

Posted by: bobmoses | November 24, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

As one who theorized that it was drug dealers who tried to throw a ruse with the "FED" note, rather than right wingnuttia, I'll be happy to say that liberals will apologize for the premature conclusions as soon as we hear same said right wingnuttia note that their knee jerk reactions to the Oklahoma City bombing blaming Islamic terrorists were wrong.

Waiting... waiting... crickets...

Posted by: CardFan | November 24, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

ged0386 - mindless and hateful liberals? Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black? And, liberals aren't hateful...just annoyed at the crybaby right wingers.

Posted by: vifi7 | November 24, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Note to self: Must vote for Palin in 2012 to finish the job Bush left uncompleted - reducing the U.S. to economic ruins.

Posted by: LenB | November 24, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

vifi7 -

So to be clear, blanket attacks on Democrats are laughable, but blanket attacks on Republicans are acceptable.

Say what you want about Prejean, but she has never been elected by anyone. But while you are on the subject, is John Edwards the ideal of a good man in liberals' minds?

Posted by: bobmoses | November 24, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

>>>"Now that we no Sparkman was a fraud (or at least attempted it) when are all the other left wing frauds going to eat some crow?"<<<

Right after the right wing frauds learn to spell - likely never.

Posted by: LenB | November 24, 2009 3:54 PM

But right after liberals start attacking the message instead of the messenger.

Posted by: mcoghlan | November 24, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse


"Must vote for Palin in 2012 to finish the job Bush left uncompleted - reducing the U.S. to economic ruins."

I like how this mindless partisan isn't even responding to the article or any of the comments. He is just babbling random liberal boilerplate. Not much a of a thinker, huh?

vifi7 -

"mindless and hateful liberals? Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black? And, liberals aren't hateful...just annoyed at the crybaby right wingers."

Well, to be clear, not all liberal are mindless and hateful, just most of those who comment here.

I love how liberals like yourself love to think that you are somehow more tolerant than those who dare not share your narrow minded views. As your comments and the comments of others demonstrate here, there is plenty of intolerance among liberals too.

Now look, I don't expect your hyper-partisan brain to understand that. Keith Olbermann and Paul Krugman have been telling you for years that everyone who does not subscribe to their narrow minded ideology is dumb, evil or dumb and evil. it's not your fault that you have fallen prey to the lowest form of demagoguery. You clearly do not have the critical thinking skills required to overcome it.

Posted by: bobmoses | November 24, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

['Cause the Feds say it was suicide, it must be suicide!]

So, Paladin22, given your deep disdain for "the Feds," I'm guessing you're also against federally run healthcare?

Or is your indignation limited to those occasions when "the Feds" fail to confirm a liberal conspiracy theory?

Posted by: dougster | November 24, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure that Olbermann and Maddow will follow up on this story tonight. Surely they were not just using this man's tragic death as a cynical opportunity for partisan attack. Surely they actually care about this man and will update their audiences tonight.

Posted by: bobmoses | November 24, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Paladin22 -

"'Cause the Feds say it was suicide, it must be suicide!"

Yeah, you know that Obama and Holder would want to cover up the murder of a federal employee by conservatives.

I love how people can find excuses to believe or disbelieve anything they want.

Posted by: bobmoses | November 24, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I believe he was murdered by the same gang of reactionaries who attacked Tawana Brawley.

Posted by: jd5024 | November 24, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Comment from the person who found the body in this article from this CBS news article:

"man who said he was among those who found the body told tells the Associated Press that Sparkman was naked, bound at the hands and feet with duct tape and gagged - details that have not yet been confirmed by authorities."


"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."

Nah, no one but a left-wing nut would construe that to be a probable murder scene. And we also have to consider the "possibility" that the one who happened upon the body didn't really see what he saw, he only saw what he thought he saw. Right? Make sense?


Posted by: gypsyearthspirit | November 24, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Really???? Is that right? You mean this wasn't a plot by the Right to deprive this man of his rights? What? Who knew? Everyone on the left clicked their tongues and were just sure that someone on the Right did this! Well....!

Posted by: joaquinrose | November 24, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

[They put Miss California on a pedastal for no other reason then her opposing same-sex marriages.]

I/m confused, vifi7 -- why would Republicans "put Miss California on a pedastal [sic]" for expressing the exact same view of marriage as President Obama?

And while we're on the subject, what on earth does Miss California have to do with a story about a sick man who tried to make his suicide look like a homicide?

Posted by: dougster | November 24, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to add:

Why is it that you anti-government folk all the sudden have total faith in the government when it comes to this completely unbelievable conclusion?

I guess there's some things we'll just never know.

Posted by: gypsyearthspirit | November 24, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Hannibal the Cannibal once said,

"A census worker once tested me. I ate his liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti"

Maybe he's the real killer.

Posted by: jsmith33351 | November 24, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I find it funny that both of your right and left wingers are basically whining and b*&^%in on this board. I am not affiliated to either party because there are issues on both sides I agree with. This is what is wrong with politics and the people that choose sides... if your to the right, you have to bash the left ,regardless of what you think. Always blame the other guy .... its pretty comical to read... keep it up :)

Posted by: rvanags | November 24, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

@ rvanags,

Hee hee hee.......!

Posted by: gypsyearthspirit | November 24, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Only cops on TV, it seems, like to investigate murders. In Aspen right now cops are calling the death of a 54-year-old waitress here an "accident," despite a forensic pathologist's determination that her death was homicide. In the wake of the pathologist's finding, cops got yet another autopsy ruling more to their liking. Publicity in connection with murder on the supposedly safe downtown streets of Aspen might put a crimp in already lagging tourism. Too, a murder investigation is costly to city government and my guess is authorities don't feel the waitress is worth the expense. Sterling Greenwood/Aspen Free Press

Posted by: AspenFreePress | November 24, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I take it that all you right-wing weeners going "Neener-Neener" also believe that Vince Foster committed suicide.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | November 24, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

So, the cops based their conclusion that it was a suicide based upon the handwriting of "Fed" on Sparkman's chest? They seem to have overlooked that his feet were still on the ground according to the FBI. Very hard to kill yourself by hanging if your feet on are the gound. See:

And as the article noted, the life insurance policy would NOT pay out for suicide.

Posted by: UNLISTED | November 24, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

from suicide to suicide bombers...
how soon before the leap...

Posted by: DwightCollins | November 24, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: byxnet | November 24, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I find it sad that the final desperate act of Mr. Sparkman to provide for his family is used only as a "political football". It seems that no one really cares about this poor, messed up man beyond how his death can be used to jab the opposition. This man obviously had some problems, and all we can talk about is whether "the lying liberal media" misled us or if Glenn Beck's broadcasts inspired right-wing nut-jobs to murder.

Have we really become so inflexible and jaded? My condolences to his family.

Posted by: EddietheInfidel | November 24, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Kind of pointless to ask leftists to reassess the case.
Leftists do not value individual life. They see life as only holding value in utility to the state and its control over society.

Posted by: cprferry | November 24, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm reminds of the story a in the Islands a few years ago where a guy shot himself in the head twice at lunch, and it was called a suicide.
There is one thing missing in this census worker case to fake a murder ...motive.

Posted by: dottydo | November 24, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

This is absolutely unbelievable. A man is so driven by despair that he kills himself horribly--and the very first post, and most of those that follow, are political ha-has, crowing about whatever political points they think has been scored. FOR SHAME. A man is dead. FOR SHAME. GO home and sit in judgment on yourselves. Remember that a man is dead, you sickening scum.

Posted by: NYC123 | November 24, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

All this proves is that the local cops think that everyone is as dumb as they are. Those cheap accidental death policies that the victim was said to have had, don't pay off if you are murdered.
Being murdered is NOT an accident. Read the fine print yokels, while I hum the theme to Deliverance.

Posted by: rkerg | November 24, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Killing a Census worker is a tangential attack. Only Census employees believe themselves to be at risk. The undercount is huge. No need to kill anyone.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 24, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Calling you out! I dare you to make arguments that don't include ad hominem attacks......

Posted by: UiMaine | November 24, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I've been thinking about that magic marker that Mr. Sparkman supposed used to write "fed" on his body. What happened to the marker?

Posted by: avahome | November 24, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

who cares...

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 24, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Similar deaths have taken place in Missouri. A couple of months ago the Columbia police found a guy hanging at a golf course shelter. They immediately called it a suicide and that concluded the investigation. On Nov. 24, I heard on local tv news about a 51 year old guy that died the same way as described in this article. Insurance policies, FED on the chest and all. From the information I heard it seemed that this particular one took place in Missouri. I know that the feds have come in here with special teams and done a lot of name calling to ruin the reputation of certain individuals. They manufacture fake evidence such as photos, videos and whatever they need to back up their false accusations and to get some of the local low life (fed wanta bes) to help them harassass these targets and when they think the public could care less they suicide the guy. They don’t have any trouble buying these insurance policies after they make a copy of the guys drivers license and send their actor to buy the policies. Then they use the policies to try to convince the public that the guy committed suicide without any help. I have already been invited to one hanging party but I didn’t go. You can find more details on my website on pages 10 and 18. Just do a search for CosmoStarMan and it will direct you to my site on Tripod. If you don’t care anything about the rest of the material then just read pages 10 & 18. At the sacrifice of a few lives it is another plan for the fed. to take control of the general public so they can herd them where ever they want them and get rid of a few unwanteds in the process. Local law enforcement and politicians are totally involved and giving full cooperation to the fed. This is Murder Inc. paid for with our tax dollars.

Posted by: CosmoStarMan | November 25, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

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