Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Killing Ground in Clay County: The Mystery on Hoskins Cemetery Road

MANCHESTER, Ky. -- No time to do a complete report yet, but I wanted y'all to know that today I visited the Hoskins Family Cemetery, where the body of Bill Sparkman was discovered Sept. 12. Because I have more appointments later this evening, I must hurry and do a brief report. I'm filing from the computer lab at East Kentucky University's Manchester Regional Campus.

The entrance to Hoskins Cemetery Road, off Arnetts Fork Road, about 12 miles east of Manchester. The gate is always locked, although a 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance can ford the stream just to the right of the culvert. The cemetery is about 100 yards past the gate. I walked up there alone. When you drive 570 miles to get the story, you'd doggone better get the story. "Yea, though I walk through the valley . . ."

A grave in the Hoskins cemetery. Notice that Kathleen was 14 years old when she married 18-year-old Harvey Hoskins in 1946, and they were married for 43 years, until Harvey's death in 1989.

The historic Peabody Ranger Station about a mile from the Hoskins Cemetery. Park rangers there are under orders not to speak to reporters about the Sparkman murder.

Sam, 18, beside the cappuccino dispenser at Couch's Marathon, at the Highway 66 exit off the Hal Wilson Parkway. Sam's aunt, Ruby Couch, runs the store, but didn't want her picture taken. Jessica, who gave me directions to the Hoskins Cemetery, told me to stop by Couch's and say hello to Ruby.

Paul Couch owns the Marathon station. His late wife, Maria De La Luce Serrato Couch, known as "Lucy," was Mexican. Mr. Couch met his wife while stationed in El Paso, Texas, with the Army in 1966. They had three children together and he has three grandchildren. Mr. Couch smokes cigars. I've got a slow leak in the left-front tire of the KIA. Mr. Couch filled up the tire for me.

Morgan Bowling is the 20-year-old news director of the Manchester Enterprise. She has lived here all her life, and has four tattoos, including a pistol with the motto "Get Tough Or Die" on her left thigh. Miss Bowling did not show me the tattoo, but only described it. She is a junior at EKU-MRC, and the same age as my oldest daughter. (I am not an award-winning film director beloved in France.)

Four teenage skateboarders on the sidewalk at the Family Dollar shopping center in Manchester. How all-American is that?

Well, I promised Miss Bowling I'd get back to the Enterprise office before they hit deadline. Hit the tip jar now, y'hear?


  1. I think that might be Luz not Luce in the name Maria De La Luce Serrato Couch which when pronounce in spanish would sound like Luce.

  2. OT but important: public option voted down in Senate Committee!


  3. That's Eastern Kentucky University, not East Kentucky University.

    If you have the time, try to interview James Garrison, the County Judge/Executive. Ask him about his experience with 60 Minutes. You'll love talking to him. Close your eyes and you'll think you're listening to Jerry Clower.

  4. This is such a sad story. I hope whoever did this is caught very soon.

  5. All go and no blow. Keep it up.

  6. Close your eyes and you'll think you're listening to Jerry Clower.

    You just described every guy in Clay County, Kentucky. But I know what you mean.

    Will correct the EKU error when I get to my own computer. Right now, I'm at the offices of the Enterprise, where they're on deadline for Thursday's paper.

  7. Time magazine had a better photo of the crime scene last week:


  8. Here's a Google map of the cemetery:


    Vast expanses of woods, but it looks like there are homes within a hundred yards of the cemetery on Arnetts Fork Road.

  9. "My dad was a good man. No person on this planet is going to fight cancer like he did, then turn around and kill himself a year or so later." - Bill Sparkman's son