Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Census worker found hanged with "fed" on his chest

AP: Census worker hanged with 'fed' on body
A 51 year old Census worker was found hanged in a remote part of southeast Kentucky with the word "fed" scrawled across his chest.

At first it seems like a simple "rednecks strung up a fed" plot, and a reason to call for more gun control for some reason. But if you think about it for a bit, it's actually an odd story for a few reasons.

I don't know a lot about "rural folk" but I DO know that if there's one thing they're good at, it's being left alone. If I were a census worker, working in a rural area, and I started getting that just-don't-feel-right feeling around any "mountain folk," I'd be beating feet. Because I'd know that 1: they could kill me with a thought, and 2: no one would ever find the body. Why go through the trouble of killing a "fed," and then put them on display like that and guarantee that more feds will come nosing around? It makes much more sense for these people who like to be left alone to simply disappear a census worker than make an example out of one. If the body were discovered hidden in a ravine, it would be a little different, but on display like this? Asking for trouble. And that's not what people who like to be left alone do.

The body was decomposed. Why commit what has been called a political killing, put it in a remote area, and not report it?

All the census worker's gear was nearby. This would imply that whoever did this either drove or rode in the worker's car to get there, then left on foot or by other means. The police had this crime scene for over a week, and they're still investigating this as a possible suicide? If the police had found sufficient fingerprints, skin flakes, eyelashes, or arm hair in the car that didn't belong to the worker, they'd rule out suicide pretty quickly. Also, no departing vehicle tracks or footprints? Sure, things can get messed up in the time it took the worker to decompose, but there would at least be some hint of evidence.

You don't plan to kill a Census worker, because Census workers just show up whenever. And if you decided to kill a "fed" so you could make a statement about your displeasure with the government, I think the only target below a 51 year old census worker is an airline luggage handler.

The mother's odd comments to the press.

But you're not reading this for simple oddities! You came here for some irresponsible speculation!!!

So, without further ado;

The case for suicide:
"I have my own ideas, but I can't say them out loud. Not at this point," [Sparkman's mother] said. "Right now, what I'm doing, I'm just waiting on the FBI to come to some conclusion."

So if someone murdered your son, which is what this initially appears to be, why would you formulate ideas you can't say out loud? On its face, this looks pretty cut-and-dry, and you'd wonder why the mother would go beyond murder, especially so quickly.

Huliq News:
Suicide would have seemed unlikely, if only because Bill Sparkman, who was also a substitute teacher, had also beaten non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He was even profiled in a 2008 piece, which described how he entered teaching, first by volunteering at his son's school because of difficulties his son faced in the classroom.

Lymphoma has a pretty high chance of relapse. If he relapsed, why would he take his own life when he may have had a chance to beat it again? Especially when he wanted to help his son as a teacher.

A possible benefit of suicide made to look like murder is the pay out of a life insurance policy. Not sure if he had any life insurance (I imagine it would have been hard to get after the first bout with lymphoma, he would have had to get it before the lymphoma). Private life insurance aside; the census bureau offers life insurance to its workers (not sure about part-time, would ASSume so since most census workers are part-time), and the policy probably has an additional pay-out if the death takes place while on duty (as is the standard for federal employees who aren't behind a desk).

But lets go back to the mother's comments; "I have my own ideas, but I can't say them out loud." If she thought he would commit suicide due to a relapse, tipping her hand early would ruin her son's efforts to help his son and mother.

As I said; irresponsible speculation, but this whole story just doesn't smell right to me.

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