Police Rule Census Worker Hanging a Suicide
Say Bill Sparkman faked his death to collect on life insurance
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 24, 2009 1:34 PM CST
In this undated 2008 photo, Bill Sparkman speaks to a 7th grade class during a lesson about sound waves.   (AP Photo/The Times-Tribune, File)

(Newser) – Authorities are saying a Kentucky census worker found hanging from a tree with "fed" scrawled on his chest committed suicide and staged his death to look like a homicide. According to Kentucky police, 51-year-old Bill Sparkman died where he was found, bound, gagged and with an ID badge taped to his neck in the woods of southeastern Kentucky.

Sparkman was a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. He had recently taken out two life insurance policies, neither of which covered suicide. Sparkman's son might also have been eligible for a $10,000 death gratuity for census workers killed on the job. Investigators say he acted alone in manipulating the scene to conceal the suicide.