Cedar Rapids Man's Death Now Being Investigated As Homicide

By Hayley Bruce & Dave Franzman, Reporters

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Cedar Rapids police are investigating the death of a man who was found unresponsive early Tuesday morning as a homicide.

A release from the department said Clifton Diapolis Sparks, 31, of 1518 7th Avenue SE, suffered a traumatic injury. His cause of death has not been released, pending an autopsy.

The man's identity was released after police received a call of a body lying in the street in the 1800 block of B Avenue NE at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

When police arrived on scene, the man was unresponsive and pronounced dead.

The release said the case remains under investigation and the department does not believe there is any immediate threat to the public. This is the third homicide in Cedar Rapids this year.

"Studies have shown that, in homicides, the victim and offender or offenders are known to each other," said Greg Buelow, Cedar Rapids public safety communications coordinator, elaborating on why there is no threat to the public.

"The investigation is ongoing but information is leading us to believe the victim was probably targeted."

Buelow said the police department is not releasing any more information on the nature of Sparks' injuries as doing so could impede the investigation.

He said police do not yet know how long Sparks was lying there before they were called to the scene and said police are investigating how he got there and where he was in the hours leading up to his death.

Neighbors on B Avenue said police were knocking on doors just a short time after finding the body.

Howard Hootman said he had worked a second shift at arrived home at about 11:30 Monday night and the street was quiet. He said he was probably taking a shower when police were called. When they knocked on his door, he had to tell investigators he didn't know much.

"They didn't tell me what they were looking for they just asked if I had heard anything. I couldn't help them out unhappily," Hootman said.

Another neighbor, Lonnie Van Damme, said he may have been watching TV at the time and didn't notice anything either.

"With the heater going any everything we can't hear much outside. When we finally looked out, there was a commotion. A crowd of people appeared...and I really didn't know who they were," Van Damme said.

Buelow said the police have not yet arrested anyone in connection with the case.

Moving forward, Buelow said Sparks' body will be taken for an autopsy to determine the cause of death and police will process any evidence collected at the scene and talk to any available witnesses to get a timeline and determine the facts and circumstances of the case.
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