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Hanged Census Worker Bill Sparkman Was a "Naive" School Teacher

(AP Photo/The Times-Tribune)
Photo: Bill Sparkman with 7th grade student, Jessie Roberts during a lesson about sound waves in 2008.

MANCHESTER, Ky. (CBS/AP) Bill Sparkman, the census worker and substitute teacher who was found hanged in rural Kentucky on Sept. 12 with the word "fed" scrawled into his chest, was described by those who knew him as an "innocent" person who always saw the good in others.

Gilbert Acciardo, a retired trooper who directs an after-school program at the elementary school where Sparkman worked, said he became suspicious and went to police when Bill Sparkman didn't show up for work for two days. Authorities immediately investigated, he said.

"He was such an innocent person," Acciardo said. "I hate to say that he was naive, but he saw the world as all good, and there's a lot of bad in the world."

Apparently Bill Sparkman found some of it. Police will not say how the word "fed" was scrawled into his chest or whether it was done before or after he was murdered. They did tell his mother Henrie Sparkman that the body should be cremated.

Bill Sparkman had worked for the Census since 2003 in five counties in the surrounding area, 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.

Mary Hibbard, a teacher in Manchester, said she recognized Bill Sparkman on the news as the census worker who visited her house this summer for about 10 minutes. Hibbard said he asked some basic questions including the size of her house, how many rooms it had and how much she paid monthly for electricity.

"I know he has a Christian background," she said. "You come to my house, we're going to talk religion."

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."


September 24, 2009 - Census Worker Hanged: Body Not Fit for Viewing Cops Tell Mother
September 24, 2009 - Census Worker Bill Sparkman Hanged in Clay County Kentucky with "Fed" Scrawled on Chest