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Thread: US census worker found hanged in Kentucky with "FED" scrawled on his chest

  1. #46
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    ^Yeah, here's a round up of a few other takes on his murder from the Atlantic.
    Dead Census Worker Sparks Debate Over Conspiracy Theories

    By Max Fisher on September 24, 2009 11:47am

    The FBI is investigating the death of census worker Bill Sparkman, who was found hanging from a tree in Kentucky with the word "fed" scrawled across his chest. The presence of an anti-government slur is already sparking a debate over whether right-wing conspiracy-theorizing is becoming irresponsible. Paranoia about the census had been spread by a handful of conservative leaders, including Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who suggested she would not be completing the census because it could be used to establish internment camps like those constructed for Japanese-Americans during World War II.
    • Leaders Enable the Anti-Government Fringe Alex Koppelman wrote that paranoia has always existed on the fringe, but conservative leaders who encourage their fear are bringing them to the forefront. "There are always people who have some sort of paranoia about the federal government and the census, but things might be worse this time around," he wrote. "There's been a lot of talk on the right about the connection (always very tenuous, and now severed) between the census and ACORN, a group that's been conservatives' favorite bogeyman of late. And Rep. MicheleBachmann, R-Minn., has been spreading her own fears about the census, at one point even suggesting a link between the census and Japanese internment during World War II -- a frightening parallel for modern conspiracy theorists who fear that the government is setting up similar camps for them now."
    • Encouraging Violence? Digby pointed to high-profile conspiracy mongering that may have implicitly condoned violence. "If he was killed for being a federal census worker, it certainly wouldn't be the first time that 'Feds' have been targeted," she wrote. "And we all know that the census is an ACORN plot and the Van Jones commies in the government are trying to destroy the American way of life. Michelle Bachman told us so. You can't expect Real Americans to just sit back and let that happen."
    • Claiming 'Lynching' Only Makes it Worse Gawker's Andrew Belonsky warned that forcing outrage around this single, isolated incident could escalate violence. "Such symbolic use of the word 'lynch,' though convenient, may do more harm than good," he wrote. "Of course politicians and media personalities should be wary of fanning outraged flames, and hopefully Sparkman's death, even if not murder, will make people think twice about churning up national shit. (Are you listening, Glenn Beck?) That said, there's also a real danger that a one-sided, accusatory conversation will only make the right feel more isolated and, therefore, help spread anti-government sentiment."
    • Don't Jump to Conclusions So cautioned several pundits, who noted that we don't yet have all the facts. DougJ wrote, "I would still caution against assuming that this was anti-government right-wing violence unless and until more details emerge." Dan Riehl anticipated a coming media firestorm over the story. "Get ready for a round of stories debating whether it is the Tea Party movement, Glenn Beck, or a color blind racist that led to this alleged homicide," he wrote. "It's a tragic story, but that won't stop the media from cherry picking the facts to drive the particular talking head debates they will most likely love to have."
    The Debate
    Dead Census Worker Sparks Debate Over Conspiracy Theories | The Atlantic Wire

    Also:
    Vote Fraud in Clay County and the Hanged Census Worker

    By: emptywheel Thursday September 24, 2009 7:21 am

    By now, you've probably heard the horrible story about the census worker and teacher found hanged in Clay County, KY with the word "fed" written on his chest.

    Before we assume that this apparent homicide was a response solely to the attacks Michelle Bachmann and others have made on the census, it's worth recalling how Clay County made news earlier this year, when a bunch of local officials were indicted for vote fraud.
    The United States Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation jointly announced today that five Manchester, Ky. officials, including the circuit court judge, the county clerk, and election officers were arrested pursuant to a federal indictment that accused them of using corrupt tactics to obtain political power and personal gain.

    The 10-count indictment, unsealed today, accused the defendants of a conspiracy from March 2002 until November 2006 that violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO is a federal statute that prosecutors use to combat organized crime. The defendants were also indicted for extortion, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to injure voters' rights and conspiracy to commit voter fraud.

    According to the indictment, these alleged criminal actions affected the outcome of federal, local, and state primary and general elections in 2002, 2004, and 2006. The indictment accused the defendants of the following criminal actions.
    Those indicted include a Circuit Court Judge, the school superintendent, the County Clerk, and an election officer (as well as other locals). That trial is currently set for early next year, though they're in the middle of discovery right now, with the defendants trying to get the grand jury testimony.

    In other words, in Clay County, the federal government is in the middle of prosecuting a number of top county officials for completely corrupting the voting system.

    While there's no more reason to believe Sparkman's death is connected to this case than that it is connected to Bachmann's inflammatory statements, it should at least caution us against leaping to conclusions. There may well be very localized reasons why people in Clay County don't want the federal government going door-to-door.
    Emptywheel Vote Fraud in Clay County and the Hanged Census Worker

  2. #47
    Elite Member L1049's Avatar
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    I have nothing really to add, except that headlines like the one relating to this story is what makes me <3 fark:

    "Census worker found hung, with the word "fed" scrawled into his chest. Hey, at least we know he ate before he died"

  3. #48
    Elite Member cupcake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cali View Post
    Hey now- to be fair, Kentucky is another one of those states that is like 3 states in one. I actually worked in Kentucky last year, and overall it was a good experience. In the northwest part of the state that borders IL and IN, its actually really progressive. Obama won some of the counties in that region, as well as in Louisville and Lexington:


    For comparison, Clay County, where he was found, went for McCain by 78%. The people in north and northwestern Kentucky even hate to claim eastern Kentucky as part of their state because its such a different world. Kentucky is strange- you'll have tiny towns that aren't rural at all and seem like a small city. But you get half a mile outside of the town, and you're in a completely rural area. From that article- this is a really good description of what I'm talking about:

    But the region that this man was working in, you're right. Eastern and northeastern Kentucky truly are Appalachia. I had a friend working in Pikeville, KY, about 2 hours from Clay County, where he was found. My friend has some incredible stories, but he had a rough go of it.
    Ive been tp Pikeville many times, my husbands family lives in Salyersville. He moved away after college, smart man. I have heard some freaky stories about murders, one involved my niece in law who was only 22 when they found her dead by the railroad tracks with a bullet in her back...Too mant stories ugh!
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  4. #49
    Elite Member darksithbunny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    You are talking about the American Community Survey, right?

    That's what I meant that maybe I shouldn't have given it out as that I am not 100% sure that is who they were. I mean she said it was the survey thing and showed me a badge but anyone can make up a badge anymore. I asked neighbors and they said no one like that called on them.

  5. #50
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darksithbunny View Post
    That's what I meant that maybe I shouldn't have given it out as that I am not 100% sure that is who they were. I mean she said it was the survey thing and showed me a badge but anyone can make up a badge anymore. I asked neighbors and they said no one like that called on them.
    When they do the American Community Survey, participants are randomly selected. So it's likely that your neighbors didn't get one because they weren't selected. You should have at least gotten a survey in the mail before someone visited and a notification that you were selected for this survey before the actual survey was sent. If you have questions about someone showing up at your door, there's phone numbers listed online for you to verify that the person was indeed census. (Click here)

  6. #51
    Elite Member Little Wombat's Avatar
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    The Census Bureau conducts a number of surveys besides the American Community Survey (ACS), so it may or may not have been the the ACS that he was collecting. These surveys are confidential, and the data collector is only authorized to discuss the survey with the household selected for the survey. (And any information the household provides in the survey is confidential and cannot be disclosed publicly without permission.)

    Sometimes the Census Bureau will also send a letter ahead of time to give you a head's up that someone will be coming to speak with you. If you're not sure, you can always call the Census regional office (U.S. Census Bureau) to confirm that you were selected for the survey (or to make an appointment with whomever is collecting the data).
    "Oh! I've been looking for a red suede pump!"
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  7. #52
    Elite Member darksithbunny's Avatar
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    Thanks Fluffy!

  8. #53
    Elite Member L1049's Avatar
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    I didn't even realize census takers went door to door.
    Do workers from the Canadian census go door to door? I remember my mother filling out a census card a long time ago, but I don't recall someone ever coming to the house.

  9. #54
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darksithbunny View Post
    Thanks Fluffy!
    Welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by L1049 View Post
    I didn't even realize census takers went door to door.
    Do workers from the Canadian census go door to door? I remember my mother filling out a census card a long time ago, but I don't recall someone ever coming to the house.
    Usually US census workers don't go door-to-door except when they're doing address canvassing. I think most Census surveys and the actual census itself are mainly conducted by mail. It's much, much cheaper to do it by mail than always send someone to the door each and every time. Like Little Wombat said, there are plenty of other surveys that the Census Bureau works on outside of the actual census, but I think the ACS is probably the largest outside of the census.

  10. #55
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    An update:
    Census worker's death by asphyxiation might not be homicide, police say

    By Bill Estep - bestep@herald-leader.com

    Asphyxiation caused the death of federal census worker whose body was found at a rural Clay County cemetery with a rope around his neck, but state police have not determined the death was a homicide.

    Bill Sparkman, 51, of Laurel County, reportedly had the word "fed" scrawled on his chest.

    That raised questions about whether he was killed because of hard feelings against the government, and catapulted the mysterious death into a national story.

    But police aren't sure whether Sparkman was doing census work in Clay County at the time he died, Capt. Lisa Rudzinski, commander of the state police post handling the investigation, said Thursday.

    In fact, one early media report that a computer Sparkman used for census work was found in his truck near the cemetery wasn't true, Rudzinski said.

    Police found Sparkman's red pickup truck, but the computer wasn't in it, she said.

    Police have not ruled whether Sparkman's death resulted from homicide, accident or suicide, Rudzinski said.

    "There are too many unanswered questions for us to lean one way or the other," Rudzinski said. "Every scenario is still on the table. We have not ruled this is a hate crime against a federal employee."

    The only thing police have concluded is that Sparkman didn't die as a result of natural causes.

    And reports that Sparkman was hanging from a tree at the cemetery create an image that didn't fit with specific evidence where Sparkman was found, Rudzinski said.

    Sparkman had a rope around his neck that was attached to a tree, but was not hanging in the traditional way that many people envision that, the state police commander said.

    Sparkman's body was in contact with the ground, state police said in a news release.

    A law enforcement official who requested anonymity told the Associated Press Thursday that Sparkman was found with the word fed scrawled on his chest.

    The law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case, did not tell the AP what type of instrument was used to write the word on the chest of Sparkman.

    Sparkman died early Sept. 11, police said. Some people visiting the cemetery in southern Clay County the next afternoon saw his body and called authorities.

    The Census Bureau has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County until the investigation is complete, an official said.

    FBI spokesman David Beyer said the bureau is assisting state police and declined to discuss details of the crime scene. Agents are trying to determine whether foul play was involved and whether it had anything to do with Sparkman's job as census worker, Beyer said. Attacking a federal worker during or because of his federal job is a federal crime.

    Lucindia Scurry-Johnson, assistant director of the Census Bureau's southern office in Charlotte, N.C., said law enforcement officers have told the agency the matter is "an apparent homicide" but nothing else.

    Sparkman's mother, Henrie Sparkman of Inverness, Fla., told the AP her son was an Eagle scout who moved to Kentucky to direct the local Boy Scouts of America.

    She said investigators have given her few details about her son's death. They did tell her his body was decomposed; it hasn't been released for burial.

    "I was told it would be better for him to be cremated," she said.

    Sparkman had worked for the Census Bureau since 2003 in five counties, conducting interviews once or twice a month. Much of his recent work had been in Clay County, officials said.

    The Census Bureau has yet to begin door-to-door canvassing for the 2010 head count, but thousands of field workers are doing smaller surveys on various demographic topics on behalf of federal agencies. Next year, the Census Bureau will dispatch up to 1.2 million temporary employees to locate hard-to-find residents.

    The Census Bureau is overseen by the Commerce Department.

    "We are deeply saddened by the loss of our co-worker," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement.

    Locke called him "a shining example of the hardworking men and women employed by the Census Bureau."
    Census worker's death by asphyxiation might not be homicide, police say - Latest News - Kentucky.com

    Weird. So where's the laptop? If it's not at his house, then it must have been stolen. Which means he still could have been working when this happened.

  11. #56
    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    well my best gf in college was from Kentucky and told me all kinds of stories, its like another world down there

  12. #57
    Elite Member L1049's Avatar
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    If it was suicide, at least he was smart enough to write 'FED' the correct way, unlike a certain other twit with a backwards 'B'.

  13. #58
    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    One of the comments on one of the news stories claimed that the laptop and his ID were found on the ground at his feet. No way of verifying that though.
    "If you are not outraged, then you are not paying attention," Heather Heyer's facebook quote.

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    Elite Member Shinola's Avatar
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    Who in the hell scrawls "Fed" on himself, then hangs himself in some odd way in a cemetery? Good Lord.

    Speaking as a dislocated southerner, somebody killed that man. Alice, people in the South would probably treat you really kindly. Most of the killings where I grew up had to do with individual vendettas.
    Posted from my fucking iPhone

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    Elite Member Cali's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shinola View Post
    Who in the hell scrawls "Fed" on himself, then hangs himself in some odd way in a cemetery? Good Lord.

    Speaking as a dislocated southerner, somebody killed that man. Alice, people in the South would probably treat you really kindly. Most of the killings where I grew up had to do with individual vendettas.
    Yup- this dislocated southern agrees with you. With few exceptions, the killings usually do have an individual vendetta. But I just can't fathom that in this case. It doesn't sound like there is any evidence that he had any sort of secret second life, criminal history, or drug dealings.

    I'm curious about one thing- if it is proven that he wasn't working on the census at the time of his death, is it still a federal crime? Is he still counted as a federal employee?

    ETA-

    BREAKING NEWS: Gruesome details confirmed in Sparkman's death
    A law enforcement official has confirmed several frightening rumors involving the mysterious death in Clay County of Bill Sparkman, a former Laurel County substitute teacher.

    Sparkman’s body was found Sept. 12 in a cemetery in a remote patch of the Daniel Boone National Forest. In addition to working as a substitute teacher, Sparkman also was working as a Census field worker, going door-to-door in Clay County.

    On Wednesday, a law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity, said Sparkman was found with his hands and feet bound, with the word “fed” scrawled or carved into his chest.

    For details, see Friday's print edition of The Sentinel-Echo.
    Sentinel-Echo.com - BREAKING NEWS: Gruesome details confirmed in Sparkman's death

    Geezus! It might have been CARVED into him?! That's just horrific.

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