Hanging of Census Worker May Be Protest Against Government

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Washington—The FBI is investigating potential foul play and anti-government sentiment in the death of an employee for the United States Census Bureau, who was found hanged from a tree earlier this month.The body of Bill Sparkman, who is a teacher in addition to working for the Census Bureau part-time, was found in a rural portion of a southeastern Kentucky forest. The had the word “fed” written on his chest, suggesting the crime was motivated by anti-government sentiment, although authorities will not say how the word was written on the body.

An investigation has been launched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Authorities with the FBI have remained tight-lipped about the case, although they did say that they are assisting state police in the matter.

“Our job is to determine if there was foul play involved – and that’s part of the investigation – and if there was foul play involved, whether that is related to his employment as a Census worker,” said David Beyer, a spokesperson for the FBI. According to a spokesperson for the Census Bureau’s southern office in Charlotte, N.C., however, law enforcement officers are treating the case as an apparent homicide.

Sparkman, 51, conducted Census interviews only once or twice a month. His truck was found near the location of his body in a rural area of Kentucky’s Clay County, with his work computer inside. Much of Sparkman’s recent work had been conducted in Clay County, which is just one of five counties where he worked conducting door-to-door interviews.

Census Bureau officials have since suspended door-to-door operations pending the investigation’s outcome. Although the Bureau has not yet begun canvassing for the 2010 Census, it has deployed workers to collect demographic statistics in the field on behalf of federal agencies.

Sparkman, who was described by a colleague in an after-school program as am “innocent person” who “saw the world as all good,” had worked for the Census Bureau since 2003. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, in a statement, called Sparkman “a shining example of the hardworking men and women employed by the Census Bureau.”

Authorities cite violent incidents against other federal workers, including Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service employees which have increased from 55 to 290 in the decade ending 2006, in their decision to begin an investigation into the hanging of Sparkman.

 

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