LANCASTER, Ky. - UPDATE: Kentucky State Police officials have confirmed that human remains found buried at a Garrard County home are those of missing mother Savannah Spurlock.
They have also shed new light on the man arrested in connection with the case, David Sparks, 24, of Lancaster. Sparks, whose parents own the home where Spurlock’s remains were found, was one of three men identified as the last to see Spurlock before she vanished Jan. 4.
“As part of the initial investigation by Richmond PD, the three men last seen with Savannah Spurlock were identified and interviewed, one of which was David Sparks,” State Police officials said in a statement. “The investigation indicates that Savannah Spurlock was seen at the residence of David Sparks during the morning hours of January 5.”
That is the home on Fall Lick Road where Spurlock’s remains were found Tuesday, after Sparks’ father reported a foul odor on a portion of his property.
Sparks is thus far charged with tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse, but additional charges are possible.
Spurlock’s aunt, Lisa Thoma, on Thursday posted an emotional video statement to a Facebook page dedicated to finding her niece. In the statement, she thanked the detectives from the multiple local, state and federal agencies involved in the investigation.
She also thanked the more than 35,000 people who followed the page, shared information and prayed for Spurlock's safe return.
“Our sobs of pain and physical anguish are met with moments of our beautiful memories of the vibrant and vivacious person she was,” Thoma said through tears. “She lives on through her precious boys, who each carry a special part of her in them. We know that Savannah has not been suffering all of this time. She has been cradled in the arms of our great savior, Jesus Christ. As we have cried out to Him through the unknown, we continue to cling to Him through the pain and heartache of the truth to come.
“As hard as the last six months have been, the truth of what happened that night in January is going to be even more painful. We have fought a very public fight, and now we must step away and grieve privately. We plan to close this page tomorrow morning, and we ask that media respect our need for privacy as well.”
Kentucky law enforcement officials made a gruesome discovery Wednesday that they believe may be the remains of Savannah Spurlock, a missing mother of four last seen just after the new year.
Authorities have also made an arrest in the Jan. 4 disappearance of Spurlock, 22, of Richmond, who was last seen leaving a Lexington bar with two or three men.
David Sparks, 24, of Lancaster, is charged with tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse, according to Madison County Detention Center records. He was booked into the jail early Thursday morning.
WDRB in Louisville reported that, according to Sparks’ arrest report, a lawyer for the homeowner of a home on Fall Lick Road in Garrard County called police and said he was concerned about a foul odor on his property.
This is the same property on Fall Lick Road that was searched in February. It’s the home of one of the men seen on video leaving The Other Bar with Savannah Spurlock in January @LEX18News pic.twitter.com/DBYSzacu6K— Jacqueline Nie (@JacquelineLEX18) July 11, 2019
Multiple law enforcement agencies including the FBI are at the scene on Fall Lick Road in Garrard County Wednesday where missing Madison County mother Savannah Spurlock was last believed to be. @heraldleader @pbaniak @caitlyn_stroh @Mike_Stunson pic.twitter.com/2Bmzx37lAt— Alex Slitz (@AlexSlitzPhoto) July 11, 2019
Kentucky State Police officials told WLEX in Lexington the owners of the home are the parents of one of three men last seen with Spurlock as she left The Other Bar in Lexington. A WLEX reporter tweeted that the homeowners are Sparks' parents.
The arrest citation: Alan Sparks reported to his attorney a “foul odor coming from his property and became concerned”. This info, with the fact that David is a primary suspect in a missing person investigation, led investigators to search Fall Lick Road home/property @LEX18News— Jacqueline Nie (@JacquelineLEX18) July 11, 2019
Responding officers found human remains buried in the yard behind the house, WLEX reported. Some of Spurlock’s belongings were also found at the scene, the station said.
Trooper Robert Purdy told reporters at the scene that the body was found just before midnight Tuesday. They worked into the early morning hours Wednesday removing the victim and combing the home, inside and out, for clues.
“The phone call that we had earlier in the day obviously, you know, was credible and led us to finding these human remains, so hopefully this is going to provide some answers moving forward,” the trooper said in footage from WDRB.
Purdy declined to say exactly where on the property the remains were found.
“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,” Purdy said.
Kentucky troopers said in a news release that the severely decomposed remains have been taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort for autopsy and identification.
Sparks has not been charged in Spurlock’s death, but the death investigation is ongoing, troopers said.
Spurlock is the mother of two toddler sons and twins born in December.
According to Richmond police officials, she was last seen on surveillance footage leaving the bar with two men. Both men, along with a third man seen with Spurlock before she left the bar, were previously questioned and released.
It was not clear which of the men was believed to be Sparks.
“She talked to her mom at about 2:30 a.m. when she was leaving the bar and told her she would be home in a few hours,” Spurlock’s aunt, Elaine Moore, told the Lexington Herald-Leader a few weeks after her disappearance. “That’s the last time she talked to her. She’s always been very good about letting her parents know if she’s staying out late, for them not to worry about her.”
The surveillance footage of Spurlock leaving the bar is timestamped 2:34 a.m.
Spurlock’s family told local media in January that the car she drove to Lexington was found abandoned within days of her disappearance. They said the men seen with Spurlock told investigators the missing woman left one of their homes in Garrard County on foot and disappeared.
It was not immediately clear Thursday if that home is the location where the human remains were found. Authorities had previously searched the Fall Lick Road property in the search for Spurlock.
Spurlock’s mother, Ellen Spurlock, told WKYT in Lexington earlier this year that the pain of not knowing where her daughter was got harder with each passing day. It is particularly hard on her grandchildren, Spurlock said.
“(The 4-year-old) doesn’t know what’s going on, but my fear is, how long can that take place, you know? Mommy is not here for 11 days; each day is another day. How long can that take place?” Spurlock told the news station. “Her newborn twins, her 2-year-old … the twins are too young but the 2-year-old, he misses his mommy.”
On Thursday, the administrator of a Facebook page titled Missing Savannah addressed the find of the human remains.
“Please remember that I am in Savannah’s family. I cannot respond to questions and messages right now,” the post read. “We will update you as we can, but we need to be able to process any updates as a family first. #SavannahStrong.”
A second post said the family would have a statement for the public later in the day.