|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
When Bill Sparkman told retired trooper Gilbert Acciardo that he was going door-to-door collecting census data in rural Kentucky, the former cop drawing on years of experience warned: "Be careful."
The 51-year-old Sparkman was found hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery and had the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment.
"Even though he was with the Census Bureau, sometimes people can view someone with any government agency as 'the government.' I just was afraid that he might meet the wrong character along the way up there," said Acciardo, who directs an after-school program at an elementary school where Sparkman was a frequent substitute teacher.
The Census Bureau has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County, where the body was found, until the investigation is complete, an official said.
The law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity, did not say what type of instrument was used to write the word on the chest of Sparkman, who was supplementing his income doing Census field work. He was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of Daniel Boone National Forest and an autopsy report is pending.
Manchester, the main hub of the southeastern Kentucky county, is an exit off the highway, with a Walmart, a few hotels, chain restaurants and a couple gas stations. The drive away from town and toward the area Sparkman's body was found is decidedly different, through the forest with no streetlights on winding roads, up and down steep hills and sparsely populated.
FBI spokesman David Beyer said the bureau is assisting state police and declined to discuss any details about the crime scene. Agents are trying to determine if 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.