Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Confirmed: Josh Sparkman Memorial Fund Details

I have personally confirmed this account with Ms. Lynda Gilbert, the CEO of First National Bank - Manchester.  All account funds will go to Josh Sparkman.

To donate to the fund:
Send a money order or check payable to:
Josh Sparkman Memorial Fund for William Sparkman, Jr. (per Ms. Gilbert, "that is how the account has been established.")

Mail to:
First National Bank
120 Town Square
Manchester KY 40962

Please consider donating to this fund. Josh Sparkman is a 19 yr. old who lost his only parent, and he is currently struggling to pay for his father's burial, a memorial service, the mortgage on his father's home, and his basic needs like food, water and electricity.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wonderful news: A possible memorial fund set up

According to a news station in Lexington, a fund has been set up to help Josh Sparkman with funeral and living expenses.  The full story is here, and an excerpt is below.  I have emailed the bank to confirm the fund and details, but if others have that information, please comment.

To help offset some of the unexpected expenses Josh Sparkman is now struggling with, a memorial fund has been set up. If you'd like to help him get back on his feet, you can drop off or mail a donation to any First National Bank of Manchester.
The NBC news station in Lexington did a nice interview with Josh- you can watch it here.

TOMORROW (Oct. 11): Bill Sparkman Memorial March in London, KY

This is some great news. It sounds like people are organizing! Please re-post this far and wide. And if you happen to attend, I'd love to post photos of the event and hear from you.

Memorial walk planned for census worker
Plans are in the works to honor a census worker found dead near a Clay County cemetery.

The Bill Sparkman Memorial March will start at 3:30 Sunday, October 11th at the London Walmart and go to the Clay County cemetery where he was found last month.


Another brief interview with Josh Sparkman

Mysterious death leaves son seeking truth in Clay Co.
Oct. 3
By Jason Riley

Photo By Michael Hayman, The Courier-Journal
Josh Sparkman, son of slain census worker Bill Sparkman, on the steps of his father's home in London, Ky.

LONDON, Ky. — He was called home by his father's death and now sits in an empty house, weary and alone.

Josh Sparkman is tired of the media asking him about his father, Bill Sparkman, who was found naked, tied to a tree in Eastern Kentucky last month, bound and gagged with the word “fed” scrawled on his chest. He is frustrated with police. And he feels that his family hasn't been there for him.

“This story has been used for people's amusement,” Sparkman said softly, looking down as he smoked several cigarettes to the nub during a wide-ranging interview outside his father's single-story white home in London, Ky. “That's not right. … It's like a real-life drama series and it's not. It's real life.”

Sparkman, 20, described how he learned of his father's death while living in Tennessee, how he has dodged a barrage of media requests and what he thinks his father was doing on the day he disappeared.

His father, Bill Sparkman, was “very scared” of some of the back-road places his job took him and was uneasy with the “weird looks” he sometimes received, Josh Sparkman said. But he wasn't a man easily dissuaded from his task of information gathering as a part-time U.S. Census Bureau employee.

“If people didn't answer the door the first time, he would come back,” Sparkman said. “He would talk to neighbors, ask what kind of vehicle the person drove. He took pride in his work. … And he always got his case.”

That persistence might have gotten his father killed, Sparkman believes.

But some residents and officials in neighboring Clay County, where Sparkman's body was found near a remote cemetery, balk at the speculation that he was killed because of an anti-government sentiment or by area drug dealers he might have stumbled upon.

They're critical of the media — who they say have been recycling eastern Kentucky stereotypes and sensationalized the case.

“There is no reason for this to go international,” said Charles House, the President of the Clay County Genealogical and Historical Society, who has received media calls about the case from as far away as France.

Update: excerpt from Oct. 7 story on Bill Sparkman and Josh Sparkman

Unfortunately, Josh Sparkman is still having financial trouble.  From an Associated Press story on Oct. 7:
Josh Sparkman told The Associated Press on Tuesday that investigators released his father's body Monday to the Cremation Society of Kentucky.
Bill Sparkman, a substitute teacher, had wanted his body either donated to science or cremated. Authorities advised Josh Sparkman to choose the latter option and not have the family view the body because of its condition.
A family visiting a Clay County cemetery found Bill Sparkman on Sept. 12 with a rope around his neck and his hands and feet duct-taped. The coroner confirmed the word "fed" was written on his chest, apparently in felt-tip pen.
The state medical examiner's office has established the cause of death as asphyxiation but has not determined whether it was a homicide, accident or suicide.
Mike Wilder, executive director of the State Medical Examiner's Office, said the investigation continues, with "bits and pieces of information" still coming to light.
There were "circumstances" that made the Sparkman case particularly difficult to resolve, but Wilder declined to elaborate.
"The cause of death was pretty well determined. The manner of death is still what is under investigation," Wilder said.
Josh Sparkman said police had released his father's pickup truck, which was found at the scene, and he is now driving it. Although he says police have told him nothing, he remains certain the death was a homicide.
He said many things, including a census laptop and personal items like his grandfather's wedding ring, were missing from the truck and were not on a list of potential evidence that investigators kept. State police Capt. Lisa Rudzinski confirmed the laptop was not found in the truck but declined to comment on the other items.
"They ransacked that truck," Josh Sparkman said. "That's more evidence this is not an accident or suicide. This is a homicide."
Sparkman said he was working on organizing a memorial service for his father but hadn't scheduled it because he is broke and hasn't found a funeral home to host it. He said he would like to do it soon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Open Post: Brainstorming Session

Lets get the process started!  To begin, introduce yourself in the Comments.  Please share any ideas, advice and anything else that is relevant. 

"It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding."
-  from Giving by Kahlil Gibran

Welcome Part II: What I'm Hoping to Do

First, I do not know Josh, the Sparkman family, or anyone involved in this tragic situation.  I have not spoken to anyone involved.  I’m just a 27-yr old from Washington D.C. who would like to help.  I am not doing this notoriety.  This is solely about helping a person who found himself in a tragic situation, and who could use some assistance and support.

Second, I am not collecting any money or funds at this point.  This is still in the planning stages.   If and when we reach that point, I will post about it.

I’ve created this blog with the hope of setting up a donation bank account or trust for Josh Sparkman, so that he can pay for his father's burial and the mortgage on the family home.   As Josh said in his recent Associated Press interview:
He said he is broke now, with just $20 to his name, and doesn't know how he is going to pay for a funeral or the $600-a-month mortgage on his father's home. He has decided to move back to London and was applying for jobs Tuesday. 
I have inquired about the existence of a trust fund or donation bank account to the Editor of the local newspaper, The Sentinal-Echo, and so far, there is not one.  I've searched extensively online and still found nothing. Thus, as far as I can tell, as of October 2, there is not such a trust or account for Josh.   Hopefully, through this blog, we can change that.  So what now?  I've identified a few starting points:

Who I'd Like to Connect With:
  • a Kentucky attorney, accountant, or bank official who can guide me in this process
  • anyone in London or Laurel County who wishes to help
  • anyone who wishes to make a donation, or who can help with this process
Starting Points:
  • figure out the process to establishing such an account, and all relevant laws and IRS regulations
  • identify and reach out to a local bank to open the account
  • identify a local who is willing to help with this process
  • check with local churches, community organizations, and staff at Mr. Sparkman's school to confirm that such an account does not exist.
If you can help, please Comment!   I'll create an open post after this to start the brainstorming session.

Lastly, this blog is not a place to discuss the controversial case.  I want to keep this blog focused on helping Josh, a 19 year-old who should not have to worry about providing for his basic expenses while grieving the loss of his only family member. 

Thanks in advance for stopping by and being a part of this process.