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February 27, 2013

Plea deal accepted in Funke case

Travis Funke receives 35 years in prison in the death of Kelly Armstrong

Howard Superior Court II Judge Brant Parry accepted a plea bargain Tuesday in the emotionally charged case against Travis Funke, who admitted to killing his girlfriend, Kelly Armstrong, 27, in 2011, and sentenced Funke to 35 years in prison.

Funke, 35, appeared in court handcuffed and shackled and pleaded guilty to class A felony voluntary manslaughter.

After hearing evidence, Parry accepted the plea and sentenced Funke to 50 years, with 35 years in prison and 15 years probation. As part of the plea, Funke is required to cooperate with police and tell them where he dumped Armstrong’s body.

If Funke declines or gives false information, Parry said he would be in violation of his probation and could receive the additional 15 years in prison instead of probation.

Funke admitted he killed her with a hammer July 8, 2011, at a mobile home at 2501 Apperson Way North after the two fought, according to police.

Funke further said he wrapped her body in a tarp and threw her in a trash container. Police then tracked the trash to the Wabash County landfill.

Investigators searched the landfill for six days but never found her body.

During the hearing, Funke did not make a statement. He only answered “yes, sir” when asked by the judge if he understood the terms of the plea, his rights and the punishment.

Funke also answered, “yes, sir” when Parry asked whether he knowingly and intentionally killed Armstrong while acting under sudden heat, which is the definition of voluntary manslaughter.

About a dozen family members of Armstrong attended the hearing and urged Funke to tell them where they can find her body.

“Where’s Kelly?” Armstrong’s father, David Armstrong, said on the stand, staring at Funke. “That’s all we want.”

David Armstrong doesn’t believe Funke has been truthful when it comes to Kelly’s whereabouts and asked Judge Parry to take the plea under consideration to give the family more time to find their loved one.

“Just give us Kelly and it’s all over,” David continued. “You have lied to us too many times. Just give us our daughter.”

Family members of Kelly Armstrong reported her missing Sept. 26, 2011. She had not been seen since June.

When initially questioned by Kokomo police, Funke denied any involvement. Police did arrest Funke on an escape charge for cutting off his in-home detention monitoring device. Funke was on house arrest out of Marshall County on an unrelated charge.

The case intensified in October when detectives were told by jail officials that Funke had admitted to a cell mate that he killed Armstrong.

In subsequent interviews with police, Funke again admitted to killing her.

Throughout the case, Kelly’s family has been critical of the police and the prosecutor’s office and believe Funke has been lying.

KPD Detective Mike Banush took the stand and testified that detectives and the prosecutor’s office have communicated with the family about the case throughout the process. He also said police spent six days and 660 man hours searching for Kelly’s body to no avail.

Banush said police found several of items from Funke’s trailer at the landfill, but did not find her body. He added that a supervisor at the landfill said there’s very little chance of finding anything in the landfill.

Armstrong’s mother, Teresa Edwards, went along with the plea, but believes police searched the trash from the wrong date and wants a continued search of the landfill.

“We last heard from her June,” she said. “They didn’t search the right date.”

“I don’t have a problem with the terms of the plea, I have a problem with Travis’ ability to tell the truth,” Edwards said on the stand prior to sentencing.

“I’ve known Travis for a long time, and I believe he is lying. All I want is Kelly.

“Whatever you decide today won’t change anything,” she told the judge. “I will continue to look for Kelly. I won’t stop.”

Several other family members also testified to the pain and suffering this case has caused the family and urged Funke to tell the truth.

“I just want my sister,” said Shelly Rush, Kelly’s sister. “I don’t care what happens to him. We just want to bring her home and give her a proper burial.”

Shelly Rush added that if the judge does accept the plea, she asked that a photo of Kelly hangs in Funke’s cell as a reminder of what he did to her sister.

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