The Associated Press reported on Friday evening that according to a witness, the Kentucky teacher and part-time census worker who was found dead and with a rope around his neck in a remote area of a national forest on September 12 was also naked, bound, and gagged when his body was discovered.
Jerry Weaver was attending a family reunion when he and a group of relatives went to visit family graves at a cemetery in the forest and found the body of Bill Sparkman.
Weaver told the AP, "The only thing he had on was a pair of socks. And they had duct-taped his hands, his wrists. He had duct tape over his eyes, and they gagged him with a red rag or something. And they even had duct tape around his neck. And they had like his identification tag on his neck. They had it duct-taped to the side of his neck, on the right side, almost on his right shoulder."
Weaver also said that a pickup was parked nearby with Sparkman's clothes in the bed of the truck. "I thought he could have been killed somewhere else and brought there and hanged up for display, or they actually could have killed him right there," Weaver stated. "It was a bad, bad scene."
Police would not comment on Weaver's remarks, but two people with knowledge of the investigation did confirm certain details, such as the fact that Sparkman's census identification badge was taped in the area of his head and shoulder.
Authorities have revealed that the word "fed" had been written on Sparkman's chest with a marker, but state police have refused to speculate on whether the death was homicide, suicide, or an accident. According to a story which appeared in the Washington Post prior to the latest revelations, "State and federal law enforcement officials on Thursday dismissed the suggestion from a news service report that the man, William Sparkman, 51, may have been targeted because he worked for the federal government, calling that speculative."
Those speculations are certain to increase now that it seems undeniable Sparkman's death was homicide. Time Magazine noted on Friday, "The discovery of the body of Bill Sparkman, 51, a substitute teacher and a field worker for the bureau, comes at a time when talk media, tea parties and white-hot town-hall meetings have fanned antigovernment sentiment. Speculation has run rampant that the Sparkman case may be related to the vitriol. Kentucky, like many other Southern states, voted overwhelmingly for Senator John McCain during the 2008 presidential election."
Time went on to argue that the murder may have more to do with the region's history of moonshine liquor -- and the recent reputation of the Daniel Boone National Forest as a haven for pot growers -- than with anti-government or anti-Obama sentiment. The fresh details seem certain to fan the arguments on both sides.