Since yesterday’s revelation by the Kentucky State Police, FBI, U.S. Forest Service,State Medical Examiner’s Office and the Clay County Coroner’s Office, that the death of Census Bureau employee William E. Sparkman, Jr., “based upon evidence and witness testimony” was “an intentional, self-inflicted act that was staged to appear as a homicide,” many eyebrows have been raised.
Now, insurance fraud is definitely a common occurrence, but to take one’s own life for a small payout is extreme, and cursory searches on Google reveal that this case provides many of the top hits when searching for a suicide that was staged to look like a murder. Thus, this is a very rare occurrance, so these conclusions should be further examined before the door on this case is shut forever.
According to the Associated Press, “Sparkman ‘told a credible witness that he planned to commit suicide and provided details on how and when.’
Authorities wouldn’t say who Sparkman told of his plan, but said Sparkman talked about it a week before his suicide and the person did not take him seriously. He told the person he believed his lymphoma, which he had previously been treated for, had recurred, police said.
Sparkman also had recently taken out two accidental life insurance policies totaling $600,000 that would not pay out for suicide, authorities said. One policy was taken out in late 2008; the other in May.
On November 12, The Huffington Post reported the following:
“If it’s deemed suicide, there’s no point in even looking at insurance,” Josh Sparkman said. “There’s no such thing as suicide insurance. The money is not the concern. I just want to know what happened to my dad.”
Sparkman’s naked body was found Sept. 12 near a family cemetery in a heavily wooded area of southeastern Kentucky. One of the witnesses who found the body said the 51-year-old was bound with duct tape, gagged and had an identification badge taped to his neck. Authorities have confirmed “Fed” was written on his chest likely in pen.
Josh Sparkman, 20, who is unemployed, said he’s convinced his father could not have committed suicide, even though law enforcement officials previously told the AP on condition of anonymity that they are looking closely at that possibility and increasingly doubt he was killed because of his government job.
Yet after yesterday’s announcement, Sparkman’s own mother wrote to the Associated Press, referring to the swift conclusion of the case, “I disagree!”
With so many people worried about a lack of participation in the 2010 Census, federal and state agencies had every reason to end this case quickly and quietly. Until the hard evidence about how Sparkman masterminded his own death is provided, this conclusion should be taken as theory, not a fact. While it is interesting to hear basic details in the AP report (“On Tuesday, authorities for the first time released key details such as Sparkman’s wrists being bound so loosely that he could have done the taping himself. Kentucky State Police Capt. Lisa Rudzinski said an analysis found that the “fed” on his chest was written “from the bottom up.” He was touching the ground almost to his knees, and to survive “all Mr. Sparkman had to do at any time was stand up,” she said.), more evidence that goes beyond circumstantial evidence must be provided to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that no other parties were involved in this heinous act.
An autopsy report on Sparkman’s body is still pending, so we await the result of that investigation, as well as a more comprehensive report from the federal and state agencies responsible for overseeing this case.