The U.S. Census worker found hanging from a tree with the word “fed” scrawled across his chest staged his own death to look like a homicide, state police said. On Sept. 12, the naked body of William E. Sparkman, Jr. was found near a cemetery in Clay County, KY, which ignited a firestorm of media attention and speculation about the rise of anti-government sentiment in the area.
Kentucky State Police with the assistance of the FBI, the State Medical Examiner’s Office and the Clay County Coroner’s Office, released a statement today that concluded Sparkman died during an intentional, self-inflicted act despite the fact that the 51-year-old was found with his hands, feet and mouth bound with duct tape, and rope around his neck and the word “fed” written on his chest.
Earlier this month, law enforcement officials raised the possibility that Sparkman may have staged an elaborate suicide to appear like murder so his son could collect the life insurance policy. It was widely reported that had he been killed on the job, Sparkman’s family would have been be eligible for up to $10,000 in death gratuity payments from the government.
According to state police, credible witness statements indicated Sparkman discussed ending his own life and these discussions matched details discovered during the course of the investigation. It was also learned that he had discussed recent federal investigations and the perceived negative attitudes toward federal entities by some residents of Clay County.