KOKOMO — Prosecutors charged Travis Funke with voluntary manslaughter Tuesday in the death of missing Kokomo resident Kelly Armstrong.
Armstrong, who attended high school in Logansport, had been reported missing in late September. Family members held a vigil for her at Logansport's Vineyard Community Church in October, but police now believe she was killed in July.
Police are relying on a confession obtained from the 34-year-old Funke in January, after a search warrant uncovered evidence of Armstrong’s blood in a residence she shared with Funke.
Funke told police he believes he killed 27-year-old Armstrong with a hammer after she attacked him. According to the affidavit, Funke told police he’d been fighting with Armstrong over drugs. He said he believed that at one point, she’d hit him with a hammer, knocking him out.
“Funke stated that when he came to, Kelly was dead on the floor and bleeding from the head," the affidavit states. "Funke said that he has memories of hitting her in the head with the hammer, but thought it was dream.”
Police said Funke wrapped the body in a tarp and put the body in a trash tote, which was picked up July 8.
Investigators began searching the Wabash Valley Landfill in Wabash on Jan. 23, based on Wabash Valley’s records of where Kokomo trash picked up July 8 was eventually dumped. Investigators searched for six days, but failed to find Armstrong’s remains.
Last week, Armstrong’s father, David Armstrong, accused police of searching in the wrong area, saying family members had spoken with Kelly Armstrong after the supposed early July period when Funke claims to have killed her.
David Armstrong also accused police of botching the investigation, by waiting months before obtaining a search warrant for the trailer on North Apperson Way.
Both police and Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann declined to respond to those statements.
Armstrong’s sister, Shelly Rush, reported her missing Sept. 26, and told police she’d tried to contact her sister several times at the trailer that Armstrong shared with Funke.
Each time, the sister told police, Funke had said Armstrong wasn’t home.
When police went to talk to Funke, they learned he was supposed to be on in-home detention out of Marshall County. The police eventually found Funke the next day, Sept. 27, “hiding in a bedroom” on East Fishcher Street. According to police, Funke had cut off his monitoring anklet, and “had also cut his left wrist several times, causing it to bleed.”
In October, a cellmate at the Howard County jail told police Funke had confessed to killing Armstrong.
Then in November, police talked to an associate of Funke’s who also claimed Funke had confessed, and said he’d been inside the trailer on North Apperson, and had observed blood stains. He said Funke had taken out a hammer, and then proceeded to claim he’d used it to kill Armstrong. He said Funke had asked him for help in destroying the blood evidence.
After that interview, police obtained a search warrant for the trailer, and found Armstrong’s blood. Funke has been in custody since Nov. 10, when he was arrested on an unrelated felony warrant.
According to the charge against Funke, prosecutors are claiming Funke acted “under a sudden heat” and killed Armstrong with a hammer. If convicted, Funke could face a sentence of 20 to 50 years in prison.
His initial hearing on the charge is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 28 in Howard Superior Court 2.