September 29, 2009
AP Exclusive: Son sure Ky. census taker was slain
By JEFFREY McMURRAY
Associated Press Writer
Josh Sparkman lost the only family he ever really had when his census worker father was found hanging from a tree in rural Kentucky, his feet and hands duct-taped and the word "fed" scrawled on his chest.
Now the 19-year-old wants answers from investigators who will not even confirm Bill Sparkman was slain more than two weeks after his body was found.
"I look at it as disrespectful to be still throwing suicide and accident around," Josh Sparkman told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday. "He didn't do this to himself. That's dishonorable. My dad was a good man. No person on this planet is going to fight cancer like he did, then turn around and kill himself a year or so later."
Bill Sparkman, 51, was a substitute teacher and part-time census worker who had received chemotherapy for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was found tied to a tree with a rope around his neck in a remote Appalachian forest on Sept. 12, and the Clay County coroner said "fed" was written on his chest, apparently in felt tip pen.
The Ohio man who found Sparkman's body while visiting a cemetery said he had been gagged, his hands and feet bound. Authorities have refused to say if he was going door-to-door for census surveys before he died.
Josh Sparkman, who was adopted by Bill Sparkman when he was a baby, said he learned of his father's death a day after his body was discovered.
"I completely broke down," said Josh Sparkman, who is acquainted with other family members but has infrequent contact with them. "It's always just been me and my dad. It's all I have, and I don't have him anymore. I'm just kind of by myself."
Jay Blanton, a spokesman for Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, said the governor understands Josh Sparkman's frustration but is confident state police are moving as quickly as possible.
Kentucky State Police Maj. Lynn Cross said he has "full and complete" faith in the investigation after reviewing the case Monday with Capt. Lisa Rudzinski, commander of the detachment investigating Sparkman's death. He declined to divulge details from the briefing.
"The son may or may not know all these things," Cross said. "I doubt that he knows a lot of stuff that the investigators know. He probably shouldn't know at this current time, but there will be a time when he will be advised of it."
Cross said investigators are awaiting a report by the medical examiner's office.
Josh Sparkman said police and the FBI have searched his father's home but told him little, even when the body would be released. He has advised authorities that his father wanted to be cremated and police did recently release his father's truck, which Josh Sparkman is now driving.
He said he moved to London, Ky., before he started kindergarten so his father could get a job with the Boy Scouts. Although he had been living lately with friends in Tennessee, he spent most of his childhood in his father's small ranch home in London.
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.
Shirley Allen, Bill Sparkman's neighbor, said Josh Sparkman visited her two days after the body was found.
"I just asked him, 'Are these rumors true that your dad is dead?'" she said. "He said, 'Yes,' but he didn't know a thing."
Associated Press Writer Roger Alford in Frankfort, Ky., contributed to this report.
Source: Associated Press