Stopped here on my way back from Kentucky to check on the blog and update the latest on the Sparkman murder investigation. The most important development is that law enforcement officials are coming under increased pressure either to solve the case or to start explaining why they haven't solved it.
There is evidently a killer or killers at large in eastern Kentucky. Given the brutal nature of Bill Sparkman's death, the particularly stubborn official insistence on a "neither confirm nor deny" stance toward key details of the case is beginning to annoy people in Clay and Laurel counties, including public officials.
Because I'm once again using the lobby computer at a hotel -- the new Holiday Inn Express here beside the I-79 exit is very nice -- and because my wife is already angry at my delayed return, there is only time for a brief update, highlighting key points.
- First, I don't know if this has been reported anywhere else, but according to today's edition of the Manchester (Ky.) Enterprise, Kentucky State Police and other investigators re-visited the Hoskins Cemetery last Friday, Sept. 25. According to the Enterprise, investigators thoroughly re-examined the remote Clay County site, about 12 miles east of Manchester, where Sparkman's body was found Sept. 12. And, of course, officials refused to confirm that report. However, if the Enterprise staff doesn't know what goes on in that neck of the woods, nobody does.
- Second, Sparkman's 19-year-old son Josh -- whom Sparkman adopted as an infant -- is furious that police are refusing to rule out suicide as a cause of his father's death. However, the state medical examiner has officially confirmed that Sparkman died of asphyxiation.
- Third, readers interested in this case should be aware that many people in east Kentucky are angry at the Associated Press -- and whoever the AP's source was -- for an article last week which the Kentucky State Police spokesman, Don Trosper, has characterized as "misinformation" that is "damaging to our investigation."
Well, perhaps I don't need to point out the irony: The feds are, on the one hand, big-dogging the investigation and forbidding anyone else from talking about it while, on the other hand, some federal source is feeding wrong information to the AP. At least, that's the very strong suspicion of people familiar with the situation.
Tempus fugits, and I really need to get home -- we're a one-car family, and my wife needs to go buy groceries -- but I want to take a minute to address a recent troll problem here. Some persistently "anonymous" critic has repeatedly attempted to leave comments derogating my reporting abilities. At one point, this critic accused me of being a "cub" reporter.
How many times do I have to repeat myself about this? Just because you don't know what I'm doing, don't assume that I don't know what I'm doing. I've got a file folder full of notes. I've got photos and recorded interviews. I've got the phone numbers of plenty of sources. There are sources I've interviewed whom I have neither named nor quoted, and there are good reasons for everything I've done or haven't done in covering this story.
Because I've sometimes used my personal blog to highlight particular incidents or personalities -- like Kentucky's most amazing journalist, Morgan Bowling -- does not mean that this is The Big Story. What I've tried to do is to give readers some insight into how I do my job and the wonderful people I've met along the way.
Considering that it has now been 20 days since Sparkman's body was discovered, there is the distinct possibility that this investigation won't produce The Big Story for a long time, if ever. (Remember that Morgan Bowling's father was gunned down 16 years ago, a crime that is still a cold case in the files of the Kentucky State Police.)
Which is to say I didn't feel any real competitive pressure in recent days, so I've done the blog updates as I have, rather than trying to "chase" other media. Yet because of the depth of my work during my first reporting trip to East Kentucky, I'll be ready when The Big Story breaks. Also, I've talked to other journalists -- as a matter of fact, I just got off the phone with one long-time associate whom I won't name -- who might like to come along on my next trip to Clay County.
So, to our anonymous troll, I would like to explain that you don't know what tips I've checked out, or how I've checked them out. Those reports that a journalist rocked the house Wednesday during karaoke at a pub in Richmond, Ky.? That the man who sang a Hank Thompson classic made inquiries which led him to the vicinity of Main and Limestone streets in Lexington, Ky., in the wee hours this morning?
Sorry. I can neither confirm nor deny.
PS.: Yes, I know the headline says "murder," and the police say they haven't ruled out other causes. But reasonable people can conclude that when a man is found dead, blindfolded, gagged and bound with duct tape -- naked except for his socks -- suicide and accident are nearly as far-fetched as "natural causes." Somebody killed Bill Sparkman, and excuse me for not pretending we don't know that. This is my personal blog, so please feel free to convene the Blogger Ethics Committee and expel me from the club.