David Sparks is being held on criminal charges in the Madison County Jail in Kentucky after police discovered a body while they were investigating the disappearance of Savannah Spurlock, a mother of four who vanished after leaving a bar near the University of Kentucky campus.
For months, authorities and loved ones launched a massive effort to find Spurlock, including a Facebook page. “Thank you for your prayers and help to find Savannah Spurlock, who has been missing from the Lexington, KY area since 1/4/19. Please share her story until she is home safely to her babies and family,” a message on the page reads.
Police now say they have recovered a body at a property located at Fall Lick and Perkins Lane, which is Sparks’ family’s home (LEX 18 says it’s Sparks’ parents’ property). The investigating agency is the Richmond Police Department in Kentucky. Authorities have not said whether the body is that of Savannah Spurlock because they are conducting an autopsy. However, WDRB-TV reported that “police were investigating the disappearance of Savannah Spurlock” when they discovered it.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. David A. Sparks Was Booked on Charges Including ‘Abuse of a Corpse’
David Sparks was believed to be “one of the last people seen with Savannah Spurlock,” according to LEX 18. Investigators were at the home for several hours. The property was searched before in February.
According to Madison County jail records in Kentucky reviewed by Heavy, David Sparks is being held on charges of “abuse of a corpse” and “tampering with physical evidence.” The jail booking record says that he is 24, stands 5 foot 6 inches tall and weighs 155 pounds. He is a white male from Lancaster, Kentucky who was booked in the jail at 3:42 a.m. on July 11, 2019. He lived at 3178 Fall Lick Road, according to Kentucky.com, which reported that he was “one of the last people seen with Spurlock on surveillance video outside a Lexington bar on Jan. 4.” But police have never released the names of those men, according to Kentucky.com.
A few hours after Sparks was booked into the jail, police released a press release that announced they had found a body. “KSP Conducts Death Investigation After Human Remains Found in Garrard County,” the headline on the release stated.
“The Kentucky State Police, Richmond Post was called just before 5:00 pm on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 after a tip was received in reference to possible human remains that were on a property in Garrard County,” they wrote.
“The Kentucky State Police, Richmond Police Department, Lancaster Police Department, Garrard County Police Department, and the FBI responded to the location on Fall Lick Road in Garrard County, and conducted a coordinated search of the property. As a result of the search, human remains were located, and have been taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort for an autopsy and identification.”
They added: “As a result of ongoing investigation David Sparks, 23 years old of Lancaster has been arrested and is lodged in the Madison County Detention Center charged with Tampering with Physical Evidence and Abuse of a Corpse. The ongoing death investigation is being conducted by KSP Post 7 Detective Tye Chavies. He was assisted at the scene by KSP Personnel, the FBI, Richmond PD, Garrard County PD, Lancaster PD, and the Garrard County Coroner.”
KSP Trooper Robert Purdy told WDRB: “Due to the sensitive nature of this type of investigation, we can’t get into the specifics. What I can say though is the human remains were located outside and recovered from the ground.”
The Richmond Police Department posted a missing person’s notice about Spurlock on January 8, 2019, writing, “The Richmond Police Department is searching for 22-year old Savannah Spurlock. Savannah was last seen on Friday, 1/4/2019 leaving The Other Bar located at 319 S. Limestone in Lexington, KY.”
Police initially said: “Savannah was last seen leaving the bar with an unknown black male and an unknown white male. The Richmond Police Department is seeking the identity and whereabouts of these two individuals. The white male was seen leaving the area in a black, Chevy S-10 pickup. Please contact the Richmond Police Department with any information at 859-624-4776 or email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.” Police later identified those men and another but never released their identities publicly.
Oxygen Channel is also reporting that Sparks was one of three men with whom Spurlock was last seen leaving a bar.
According to LEX 18, police executed a search warrant at a home of one of the men’s relatives.
According to the Facebook page, which is run by Spurlock’s family, “Circumstances: Savannah left with two males from ‘The Other Bar’ at 2:30 am and hasn’t been seen since.”
Police later found and interviewed the men, confirmed WKYT-TV. Police also interviewed a third person described by the television station as a “third person of interest.” No further information was given about what the men might have told police.
Earlier, the Facebook page had written, “DO YOU RECOGNIZE THE MEN IN THE SURVEILLANCE PHOTO? Circumstances: Savannah left with two unknown males, she had just met, at ‘The Other Bar’ at 2:30 am via a black Chevy S-10 pickup. Surveillance video captured the men and police would like to speak with them.”
Police provided this information about Spurlock:
Shoulder length brown/blond hair
Multiple tattoos including a rose on left shoulder, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” on right side torso, “I’m her daughter” on her back.
Last seen wearing a black sleeveless top and a maroon skirt with heels.
The Facebook page provided the following additional biographical information about Savannah Spurlock:
Missing: Savannah Spurlock
Date Last Seen: January 04, 2019
Location Last Seen: Lexington, KY
Age at time missing: 22 yrs old
Year of Birth: 1996
Stats: White, female
Weight: 140 lbs.
Hair Color: Brown (colors blonde)
Hair Style:Just below Shoulder
Eye Color: Brown
Piercings: Piercing above Lip, & ears
Last Known Clothing: Black Sleeveless Shirt, Maroon Skirt, Black Heels
Tattoos:On feet, a Sun, Roman numerals, “US Navy,” and a flower on her ankle.
On Shoulder: Rose
On Back: “I am her daughter”
On Right Torso: Bible Verse Philippians 4:1
2. David Sparks Was Arrested After a Man Reported a Foul Odor at a Property
How did David Sparks come to the attention of police? That’s still a little fuzzy because they haven’t provided many details, but his arrest citation does provide some clues. It says “a man called his attorney Wednesday to report a foul odor coming from his property,” according to WKYT-TV. Investigators searched the property where they found the body as a result, and the affidavit indicated that Sparks “is the primary suspect in a missing persons investigation,” the television station reported, although that affidavit doesn’t give Spurlock’s name.
“The phone call we had earlier today was credible,” Purdy said in a press conference, “and led us to finding these human remains.” WTVQ-TV reported that the person who called was named Alan Sparks.
Authorities found evidence with the body, WKYT-TV alleged, reporting that the affidavit claimed “these items were last known to be in the control of only two individuals, the missing person, and the above.” Furthermore, added WKYT, Sparks “lives at the home and was one of the last people to be with Spurlock.”
LEX 18 reported that Savannah was seen on a neighbor’s surveillance video walking into a home that Sparks had rented in Lancaster the night she was vanished. But she wasn’t seen walking out of it, the television station reported.
On Facebook, Savannah Spurlock wrote that she was a “Restaurant Server at Shakespeare and Co. USA,” a position she obtained in May 2018. Her page also indicated she had worked in “Health administration services.”
She also wrote that she was single. An old post had indicated she was in a relationship but that dated to 2017. She filled her page with photos with friends and of her children.
3. A Relative Recorded a Video About Savannah’s Disappearance
Savannah’s aunt, Lisa Thoma, posted a plea for Spurlock’s return in a video on Facebook, which you can watch above.
“The family is having a hard time, but we’re leaning into each other, we’re leaning into God. We know He is so big,” Thoma said. “If you know anything, we beg you, come forward and call the Richmond, Kentucky police department.”
She added: “We wanted to say thank you to all who have been praying so fervently for Savannah’s safety, that she would return safely to her babies, to her family, to her mother and father. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for those who helped search, for those who do all they can.”
According to LEX 18, fraudsters have targeted the family, demanding money for information about Savannah, with one message reading, “Send us 8 Bitcoin to below address. Now be smart or never see her again. you have 12 hours.”
The Facebook page devoted to finding Spurlock wrote, “Thank you for shedding light on this terrible problem, LEX 18. This has created so much more stress and sleepless nights for our family, on top of what is already a heartbreaking situation. Please continue to pray for Savannah’s safe return.”
4. Spurlock Is the Mother of Young Children, Including Infant Twins
Spurlock’s children include twins who are only five weeks old, according to WKYT-TV. Her oldest child is a boy, age 4.
“He doesn’t know what’s going on, but my fear is how long can that take place, you know?” Spurlock’s mother Ellen told WKYT-TV. “Mommy is not here for 11 days, each day is another day. How long can that take place? Her newborn twins, her two year old – the twins are too young but the two year old, he misses his mommy. He saw her on TV one night and said ‘mommy’. He misses her.”
One recent post on the Facebook page reads, “Day 10 and we continue to fight for Savannah. Please share her picture; anyone with information, we are desperate for you to come forward. Call Richmond, KY police 859-623-8911.”
A woman wrote on Facebook, “I went to school with her. Savannah was a beautiful, genuine young lady and has four beautiful children who have been missing their mama so much they call for her when they see her picture on the TV (Lord knows the family tries not to let that happen).”
5. Savannah May Have Left One of the Men’s Homes on Foot
Although police have said little about the men’s stories, the Lexington Herald-Leader quoted another of Spurlock’s aunts as saying that the men “told police Savannah left one of their homes in Garrard County on foot.”
The newspaper reported that Spurlock is a graduate of Madison Central High School who also attended Eastern Kentucky University.