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.


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