Three weeks after part-time Census worker Bill Sparkman’s body was found hung from a Kentucky tree, the word “fed” scrawled across his chest with a red felt-tip pen, law-enforcement officials have not announced leads, suspects, or potential motives–leading to rampant speculation about why he died, says the Christian Science Monitor.
It is possible that police are hoping that the mystery will loosen lips in tight-knit and secretive Clay County, an old moonshiner’s haunt and a prime pot-growing area currently in the midst of harvest season. “There’s a combination of possible factors: marijuana, moonshine, meth, public corruption investigations, plus all the heated rhetoric about big government,” says Al Cross, a former reporter who directs the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues in Lexington, Ky. “Obama could have been a contributing factor or a tipping point, but I would be surprised. There are just too many other elements in local history that indicate otherwise. For one, this would be the first killing of an outsider in Clay County.”