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Man Faces Murder Charge In Fatal Hammer Beating

Last updated on Thursday, August 16, 2012

(KOKOMO) - A man accused of beating his girlfriend to death with a hammer and dumping her body in a trash bin has now been charged with murder.

In June, Travis Funke, 34, of Kokomo, agreed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the 2011 slaying of Kelly Armstrong, 28, in exchange for a 35-year prison term.

But the plea deal was withdrawn last week after concerns from the victim's family that the agreement stipulated that Funke's family would be given custody of the couple's 2-year-old son, Dylan.

Funke remains charged with voluntary manslaughter, but the new murder charge will give jurors another option at his upcoming trial.

Under Indiana law, murder is "knowingly or intentionally killing another human being," while voluntary manslaughter is an act committed "while acting under a sudden heat."

Armstrong's family reported her missing in September 2011 after she hadn't been heard from in months, and they said Funke, her live-in boyfriend, began acting evasive.

Shortly after police talked with Funke, he cut off his home detention monitor and tried to commit suicide, according to a probable cause affidavit.

While in jail on charges related to cutting his anklet, he told his cellmate that he had killed Armstrong with a hammer and that he was concerned about evidence that could still be in the couple's mobile home, police said.

When police searched the home, they found a hammer covered with blood and several large blood stains on the carpet, furniture and walls, according to the affidavit, which a lab later confirmed was a 99.9 percent match for Armstrong.

When investigators interviewed Funke again in January 2012, he admitted to killing Armstrong, telling police that Armstrong had threatened him with a hammer during a fight, and that he took it from her and beat her repeatedly, according to the affidavit.

Funke said he put Armstrong's body in a trash bin, which was picked up a short time later. Police tracked the trash to the Wabash Valley Landfill, where they spent six days searching through 6,000 tons of trash. No remains were found.

Funke was given a new trial date of Jan. 29.

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