Homicide suspect identified in warrant

FRONT ROYAL — A man taken into custody Tuesday by members of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office told a homicide victim’s girlfriend that, “I’m going to prison forever, and I killed him,” according to search warrant documents filed in the Clerk of Circuit Court office.

An affidavit submitted by Sgt. Crystal Cline of the Front Royal police identifies the man arrested as Clay Marshall Curtis, 61, of Front Royal.

Curtis appeared in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg on Thursday at a probation revocation hearing, according to online federal court documents. Magistrate Judge James G. Welsh returned Curtis to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service at the end of the hearing.

Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron confirmed late Friday that Curtis was the “person of interest” his department arrested Tuesday hours before Simon Funk Jr.’s body was discovered. Curtis was arrested on a federal probation violation and is being held at the Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange, McEathron said.

The search warrant documents make clear that Curtis is a prime target of the investigation.

Cline’s affidavit states that Curtis was arrested on “numerous outstanding charges.” He has not been charged with any offenses linked to Funk’s death.

Curtis was arrested hours after authorities discovered Funk’s body at 2:35 a.m. Wednesday in a wooded area on Kildare Drive, according to the court document.

Cline wrote that Curtis, prior to his arrest, answered a cell phone call from Carla Elliott, identified by Cline as Funk’s girlfriend, and told Elliott, “I’m going to prison forever, and I killed him.”

The affidavit states: “Elliott advised that earlier in the day, Simon Funk had called her to tell her that he was going to give ‘Frederick,’ which is an alias that Clay Curtis was using, a ride into the county. Funk advised that at first he wasn’t going to give Curtis a ride because he had seen a firearm in the waistband of his pants, but that Curtis agreed to put the firearm in the rear of the van.”

The search warrant describes Curtis and Funk as acquaintances.

A witness saw Curtis get into a vehicle at the Relax Inn at 1525 N. Shenandoah Ave. in Front Royal on Tuesday night, according to the affidavit. The affidavit states that Curtis was “currently staying” at the motel.

Law enforcement officials executed the search warrant at room 212 in the motel at 5:49 a.m. Wednesday morning. The search warrant lists “any and all items relating to firearms ammunition, personal items of the suspect and victim and any items that may contain forensic evidence of the suspect or victim.”

The document lists first- and second-degree murder as the charges related to the investigation.

Law enforcement officials noticed a maroon comforter and pillows missing from the bed of the motel room, according to the affidavit.

Funk’s body was found wrapped in what “appeared to be a maroon comforter,” the affidavit states.

A plastic bag containing papers and maps and a maroon bedspread were among the items seized during the search of the motel room, according to an inventory list.

An online data base shows that Curtis was released from a federal prison on Aug. 7.

Authorities asked in October that his probation be revoked after they allegedly failed to locate him after repeated attempts. The court documents also state that Curtis failed to report for a scheduled mental health evaluation on Oct. 2. His whereabouts are described in the court documents as “unknown.”

Court documents also show that Curtis was sentenced in 1994 to 24 years and several months in prison after he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun, specifically a .380 caliber pistol.

Other court records show Curtis spent at least part of his sentence at the federal prison in Florence, Colorado, a facility well-known as home to some of the nation’s most notorious criminals.

In a related matter, the taxi company where Funk worked as an independent contractor has launched an online fundraising effort to help the victim’s mother pay for his funeral and burial.

Those interested in contributing should go to http://www.gofundme.com/iqw170.

Michelle Foster, general manager and dispatcher at Yellow Cab of Shenandoah LLC, said the goal is at least $5,000, but she would be happy with whatever amount is raised.

“I just want the residents, if they want to do something nice, that would be much appreciated,” Foster said.

Foster said people can also stop by the taxi company offices at 27 S. Royal Ave. and contribute by cash or check.

<p id=’reporter_info’>Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or <a href=’mailto:jbeck@nvdaily.com’>jbeck@nvdaily.com</a></p>