Ida T. Jefferson

Man Accused in Slaying Surrenders

March 6, 2008

An Evansville man suspected of fatally shooting his former girlfriend is in custody in Georgia after turning himself in Wednesday afternoon at a police station near Atlanta.

Joaquin Starks, 25, was wanted in connection with the death of Ida T. Jefferson, who was shot multiple times early Friday morning outside her residence at Ross Center Apartments in Evansville.

Officials immediately identified Starks as a suspect. He has a history of violence against Jefferson, and was identified as the shooter by a woman with whom Jefferson was living who said she witnessed the attack.

But efforts to locate him since Friday had proved unsuccessful.

He remained at large until Wednesday afternoon, when he walked into the Sandy Springs, Ga., police station and told officers he was wanted for questioning for a domestic violence incident, Evansville Police Department Chief Brad Hill said.

It wasn't long before police there entered his information and realized he was wanted for Jefferson's death.

Hill said police should know by today if Starks will waive extradition from Georgia back to Evansville. Otherwise, he said authorities will have to initiate a lengthier legal process to return him to the state.

Hill said Starks had been following the case online and turned himself in after receiving encouragement to do so from family members and an acquaintance who he had stayed with briefly in Georgia.

But Hill said Starks had not said much about the case and declined to speak about it with investigators who tried to question him in Georgia.

"I don't think he's made any admissions down there at this time," Hill said.

Starks was brought to the police station shortly before 2 p.m. by the acquaintance, who Hill did not identify.

It was still unclear Wednesday how long he had been in Georgia or how he had traveled there, Hill said.

According to an Evansville police affidavit, Jefferson was killed while she was living temporarily with Tammy Funches at Ross Center Apartments because of difficulties with Starks.

Starks was convicted in 2004 for an incident involving Jefferson and was out on bond for a Feb. 6 incident for which he was charged with battery resulting in serious injury, strangulation and domestic battery.

According to a police affidavit, Funches told authorities that when she and Jefferson returned to their apartment Friday morning, Starks appeared with a gun in his hand.

The affidavit said Funches told authorities she was "150 percent" certain it was Starks who fired at Jefferson.

Speaking just hours before he turned himself in Wednesday, Starks' mother and his sister said they did not believe he was the one who pulled the trigger, despite Funches' description.

"I feel like she's just blaming my brother," said Antrea Starks, Joaquin Starks' sister. "How can you be 150 percent sure it's my brother? Well you just came from a nightclub, it's dark outside and this person has got on all black. You just assume it's my brother. That's not right."

Antrea Starks and her mother, Doris Starks, said Joaquin Starks likely fled only because he was scared and knew his history with Jefferson would immediately make him the primary suspect.

They said more suspects need to be considered because they do not believe Joaquin Starks was capable of the act.

"I love (Jefferson), I'm sorry for her death," Antrea Starks said. "But my brother didn't do that to her. I don't care what anybody says. ... My brother is not this type of person they're explaining him to be."

Joaquin Starks was being held Wednesday night at the Fulton County, Ga., jail.


A 14 News exclusive interview with the roommate of a murdered Evansville woman.

Tammy Funches was in the apartment where her friend, 25-year-old Ida Jefferson, was shot to death. Funches says she was shot at too.

The murder suspect, 25-year-old Joaquin Starks, is still at large. But police think they found his car.

14 News caught up with Tammy Funches Monday at Animal Control in Evansville. She was there to pick up Ida Jefferson's dog and told us what happened inside the apartment last Friday.

Funches says, "I just know I seen what I seen, what did you see? my friend get murdered."

Funches was Jefferson's roommate, "She was my sister, my best friend, my everything. I mean we did everything together, everything."

Funches was in the apartment last Friday when the shooting took place. Chilling 911 calls from the scene were released Monday.

911:"Okay, what's going on?"
Caller: "Somebody got shot."
911: "Somebody got shot?"
Caller: "Yeah"
911: "Okay, Where is the person that shot the other person?"
Caller: "I don't know."

Funches says she is the one screaming in the background. The shooting happened on Jefferson Road in Evansville.

Now the trauma of having seen her dear friend shot to death and with the killer still on the loose, Funches says it's almost too much to take.

Funches says, "I have nightmares, I can't sleep and I can't eat. I just can't do anything but have flashbacks."

Police got a break in the case when they found Starks' Oldsmobile. It was recovered Saturday morning on Burkhardt Road.

Monday Funches and friends were at the animal shelter picking up the little dog, which belonged to Ida.

Funches says, "This is Biggie, Ida's baby. She loved Biggie so my friends and I found her and came and got her because that what Ida would have wanted."

Now Funches wants the killer caught and has a message for women who are in an abusive relationship.

Funches says, "Every woman out there that's been beaten of whatever, it ain't worth it. It ain't worth your life that's all I've got to say."

Starks had a pending domestic violence case against him involving Jefferson at the time of the shooting and was ordered by a judge to have no contact with her.

Kristina M. Lamberson

Elwood man kills wife, self

March 3, 2008

An estranged Elwood couple is dead after a man gunned down his wife late Sunday and then turned the weapon on himself, apparently while their 4-year-old daughter was in the home where the shootings took place.

Marian Dunnichay, Madison County chief deputy coroner, said 26-year-old Kristina M. Lamberson died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Her death has been ruled a homicide. Dunnichay ruled the death of Robert W. Lamberson, 26, a suicide, also caused by a single gunshot wound to the head.

According to Elwood police, Kristina’s 4-year-old daughter called her aunt, April Thompson, shortly before 11:30 p.m. and told the woman her mother wasn’t responsive. Thompson then called 911, telling dispatchers the girl told her “her mommy needed help and that they needed to come right now,” according to a news release.

“She thought her mommy was dead and could not get her up,” Thompson also told dispatchers, according to the release.

When police arrived at Kristina’s apartment at 1647 Main St. they immediately smelled gunpowder, and quickly discovered the two dead in a bedroom. Robert was lying dead on the floor with a shotgun underneath him. Kristina was found dead next to the bed.

Initially, the 4-year-old girl couldn’t get the apartment’s door open, and officers had to force their way inside. The girl was not injured, and is being cared for by relatives.

“The little girl was smart, God love her,” Police Chief Jack Miller said Monday.

Miller said the apartment where the shooting took place was Kristina’s apartment. Robert had been staying at a home in the 2200 block of South B Street.

Dunnichay said a limited autopsy was performed on the two Monday at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Court records revealed that Kristina and Robert shared a short, unhappy marriage.

The couple married Aug. 23, but separated the day after Christmas. Kristina, who also has an 8-year-old son, filed for divorce Jan. 15, two days after Elwood police arrested the couple near the intersection of Main and Anderson streets on misdemeanor public intoxication charges.

According to the probable cause affidavit in that case:

At about 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 13, Officer Andy McGuire found the couple arguing near the intersection of Main and Anderson. Both smelled of alcohol and were given a portable breath analysis test. The test determined both were above Indiana’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.

While McGuire was arresting Robert, he yelled that Kristina had pills in her back pocket. McGuire found two hydrocodone pills on Kristina. She admitted she didn’t have a prescription for the pain medication, but said Robert had given them to her. Kristina was also charged with possession of a controlled substance, a Class D felony.

What the couple had been arguing about at the time of their arrest wasn’t included in the affidavit. But according to a restraining order Kristina got against Robert the same day she filed for divorce, the two had been arguing at Sam’s Wonder Bar the day before they were arrested. Robert had threatened to hurt Kristina, and used vulgarities to describe her children.

It wasn’t the first time he verbally abused her, according to the restraining order. On Dec. 22 along South B Street, Robert cursed at Kristina and pushed her into some mud. On New Year’s Eve, also at Sam’s Wonder Bar, Robert spit in Kristina’s face.

The restraining order, issued through Madison Superior Court 1, was in effect when he called Kristina’s cell phone several times recently and left messages. Elwood police arrested him for invasion of privacy, a Class A misdemeanor, at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday, for violating the restraining order. Kristina contacted police and an officer recognized Robert’s voice on a message, Miller said.

Robert was allowed to post 10 percent of his $3,000 bond, signed a no-contact order and was released from a holding cell at the Elwood Police Department at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Miller said.

On Monday, Elwood City Court Judge Kyle Noone said Elwood police should have waited 24 hours to release Robert, even though he had enough money to post bond.

Under Noone’s standing court order, anyone arrested on suspicion of committing a crime involving a domestic partner is to be held for a day so they can cool off. The crimes include domestic battery, intimidation, criminal recklessness and invasion of privacy, among others.

Miller said his department didn’t violate Noone’s standing order. He said it didn’t fall under the court’s order because the original restraining order was filed in Madison Superior Court 1, and not Elwood City Court.

Noone said that because the invasion of privacy charge was filed in his court, the standing order requiring the 24-hour hold applied.

“I expect every law enforcement agency to follow my standing order,” Noone said.