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Man sentenced to 50 years for murder of young Kentucky mother

David Sparks (pictured Thursday), 25, of Kentucky, was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in prison for killing Savannah Spurlock, 22, whose remains were found buried in a shallow grave

A Kentucky man was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in prison for killing a young mother whose remains were found buried in a shallow grave six months after she disappeared.

David Sparks, 25, pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges of murder, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse in the death last year of Savannah Spurlock, 22.

Spurlock was last seen in January 2019 leaving a Lexington bar with Sparks and two other men.

Garrard Circuit Judge Hunter Daugherty handed down the sentence recommended by Commonwealth’s Attorney Andy Sims during a short virtual hearing. 

Sims said the sentence was at the high end of what Sparks could have faced if the case went to trial.

‘We didn’t have proof beyond a reasonable doubt of any aggravating circumstances,’ Sims told Courier Journal

‘So, because we didn’t have any aggravators, we couldn’t seek the three highest penalties in the commonwealth, which are death, life without the possibility of parole or life without the possibility of parole until the defendant serves at least 25 years.’

Sims said he thinks the sentence was a good resolution to the case.

‘I’m happy for the family,’ he said. ‘Hopefully this will start to provide some closure.’

Shortly after Sparks was sentenced, Spurlock’s family shared a message on their Remembering Savannah Facebook page.   

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Savannah Spurlock (pictured) went missing on January 4 after leaving a bar in Lexington with Sparks and two other men

Savannah Spurlock (pictured) went missing on January 4 after leaving a bar in Lexington with Sparks and two other men 

Surveillance video showed Spurlock leaving a bar in Lexington with Sparks and two other men at the time of her disappearance. Video showed her entering Sparks' home that night. Police said it was the last time she was seen alive, as there was no footage of her leaving the house

Surveillance video showed Spurlock leaving a bar in Lexington with Sparks and two other men at the time of her disappearance. Video showed her entering Sparks’ home that night. Police said it was the last time she was seen alive, as there was no footage of her leaving the house

‘We are grateful that we do not need to endure the trauma of a trial and that David Sparks can never get an appeal and go free,’ the post reads. 

‘The term justice loses its meaning when this tragedy hits your family. No amount of earthly justice will ever be enough for the beautiful life stolen. We will fight to keep David Sparks in prison as long as possible, that he could never hurt anyone ever again. 

‘Young people, hold your trust as a treasure. Evil was lurking for Savannah, and you never know what wolves are lurking.

‘Savannah, we honor your memory. Your smile. Your laugh. Your thick country accent. The way you loved your babies. We love you,’ the family wrote. 

In a subsequent post, the family shared some answer to questions that had never been answered throughout the investigation. 

‘We had an extremely helpful meeting with Andy Sims and Detective Scott from Richmond PD. They answered every question we asked, giving us a much more peaceful feeling after the short sentencing that provided no new information,’ the post reads. 

‘Investigators do not know how or why David killed Savannah. Her autopsy came back inconclusive all those months ago. They have their speculations, but only David can provide the answer. We know he did this alone. 

‘Those are the only details we would like to provide for now,’ the family shared. 

Spurlock went missing on January 4 after leaving a bar in Lexington with Sparks and two other men. 

Surveillance video showed the mother-of-four entering Sparks’ home that night. Police said it was the last time she was seen alive, as there was no footage of her leaving the house. 

Six months later, investigators finally found Spurlock’s remains in a grave just 19 inches at its deepest and so shallow in places that the black plastic of the trash bags was visible without disturbing the ground. 

Savannah Spurlock

David Sparks

Six months later, investigators finally found Spurlock’s (left) remains in a grave just 19 inches at its deepest and so shallow in places that the black plastic of the trash bags was visible without disturbing the ground

It was Sparks' father, Allen, a pastor at nearby Lancaster Full Gospel Outreach Church whose report of a 'foul odor' led to the discovery of Spurlock's remains at the property (aerial view) and the arrest of his son

It was Sparks’ father, Allen, a pastor at nearby Lancaster Full Gospel Outreach Church whose report of a ‘foul odor’ led to the discovery of Spurlock’s remains at the property (aerial view) and the arrest of his son 

Spurlock's remains were discovered on a property in rural Garrard County owned by her killer's parents. The home in Lancaster, Kentucky, is pictured above

Spurlock’s remains were discovered on a property in rural Garrard County owned by her killer’s parents. The home in Lancaster, Kentucky, is pictured above

Her body was found on property connected to Sparks’ family in Garrard County after authorities received a tip about a foul odor. 

It was Sparks’ father, Allen, a pastor at nearby Lancaster Full Gospel Outreach Church whose report of a ‘foul odor’ led to the discovery of Spurlock’s remains and the arrest of his son. 

The remains were wrapped in a rug and garbage bags, with her feet bound.

Volunteers had searched for months for Spurlock, who was a mother-of-four. It’s still unclear how she died.  

Sparks was arrested in July and indicted a month later for murder. 

A DailyMail.com investigation uncovered details of what happened to Spurlock the night she left The Other Bar in Lexington with the three men and traveled with them to Sparks’ home in the small town of Lancaster.

The disturbing picture included a claim that the men took cell phone video of Spurlock performing a sex act on each of them and one neighbor’s chilling recollection of hearing screams in the night. 

Sparks was arrested on July 11, 2019, after the remains were uncovered on the property owned by his parents

Sparks was arrested on July 11, 2019, after the remains were uncovered on the property owned by his parents

Spurlock gave birth to twins in December 2018 and she also had Noah, now six, and Jace, now four

Spurlock gave birth to twins in December 2018 and she also had Noah, now six, and Jace, now four

One local who spoke to DailyMail.com last year said: ‘Sparks is the sort of guy that if you don’t do what he wants he gets mad, he loses it.

‘They all took advantage of a drunk girl that night and then the other two left her alone with Sparks.

‘They took cell phone video of her. The guys were showing it around at work. She was so drunk she couldn’t speak, it was like she couldn’t speak English.’

Investigators would not comment on the existence of any such cell phone footage beyond saying that that was not information they had ever released.

Another neighbor told DailyMail.com that she has been haunted by her own memory of the night Spurlock went missing.

Clearly distressed, the woman, who asked not to be named said, ‘I heard screams in the night. I thought at first it was the kids next door but then I knew it wasn’t.

‘I tried to wake my husband but he was mostly too drunk. I got up and I listened and I know they were coming from that house.

‘They didn’t start looking for her for a while after but when the police came I just knew. I knew what I had heard. I know something bad happened in there

‘She never came out of there alive. I told the police that when they came searching.’

The search of Sparks’ parents’ home in February 2019 made national news when officers descended on the property and searched the yards and thicket behind it and neighboring homes.

Savannah's father, Cecil, 54, and his fiancée, Cheryl Lynn Wright are pictured leaving court in August 2019 after Sparks' hearing. Spurlock held a photograph of himself with his daughter in his lap

Savannah’s father, Cecil, 54, and his fiancée, Cheryl Lynn Wright are pictured leaving court in August 2019 after Sparks’ hearing. Spurlock held a photograph of himself with his daughter in his lap 

Within days of her being reported missing by her worried mother, Ellen, Sparks was identified as one of the three men shown in security footage of Spurlock leaving the Lexington bar.

And according to several who know him, as suspicions started swirling locally and then more widely, Sparks and some other family members began spreading the rumor that Spurlock had run off with another man and had said that she was ‘sick of being a mom.’

Spurlock gave birth to her two youngest children, twins, in December 2018 and was already mother to two sons age four and two.

That night in Lexington was her first night out since the birth. But one of the two girls with Spurlock that night left early and the other left the young mother alone after the two clashed when she wanted to leave and Spurlock refused to come. 

Police have not explained how they didn’t find Spurlock’s remains on their first search of the Sparks’ property in February.

They did not comment on whether or not they believe her body was moved before its burial on the property. 

Sparks will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years of his sentence. 


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