Inmate dies in RSW jail custody

Keith Funk

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail reported Thursday that an inmate died while in custody on Wednesday night, the first such incident since the jail opened a little over a year ago.

Jail authorities did not identify the inmate but court records confirmed his identity as Keith Vance Funk, 73, of 683 Bowman Mill Road, Strasburg. A news release from the jail stated that he was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. at Warren Memorial Hospital, about an hour after he complained to security staff at the jail that he was not feeling well.

RSW Regional Jail Superintendent William T. Wilson said in an interview that Funk was in his jail cell at the time he reported feeling ill.

The news release stated that members of the jail medical staff responded to the inmate’s cell and started emergency medical treatment. A Warren County 911 ambulance arrived at the jail at about 6:10 p.m. and took him to Warren Memorial Hospital.

Wilson said the cause of Funk’s death remains to be determined by the Office of the State Medical Examiner.

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail is shown here upon its completion last July. Rich Cooley/Daily file

“At this point, it appears to be natural,” Wilson said of Funk’s death.

Funk was in jail after being charged Saturday by Woodstock police with public drunkenness and battery against an emergency health care provider. He was being held on a $2,000 secured bond and had been scheduled to appear in Shenandoah County General District Court on Friday.

Court documents state that Funk punched a nurse in the face while she was standing in front of him and trying to get him to stay in his bed.

Police Chief Eric Reiley said in an interview that the nurse reported redness and swelling from the punch.

“She felt dizzy, unsteady on her feet and saw stars,” Reiley said.

A criminal complaint filed by Woodstock police officer Travis Pence states that Funk was brought to the emergency room at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital at 9 p.m. Saturday “for a possible alcohol overdose.”

“At the time of his admission, his blood alcohol content was .208,” Pence wrote of Funk.

After receiving a call to help another Woodstock officer in the emergency room, Pence arrived at the hospital at 1:53 a.m. and found Funk handcuffed to the bed, the complaint states.

Reiley said Funk had been cleared for discharge from the hospital and the nurse was in the process of removing equipment from him when he allegedly punched her.

Reiley said officers took Funk to a processing center to fill out paperwork prior to being transported to the jail. Funk complained of shortness of breath at the processing center, and Pence called the rescue squad to have Funk’s vital signs checked.

“They confirmed he was not in any medical distress,” Reiley said of Funk, adding that he  “declined to be evaluated any further.”

At that point, Reiley said, Funk’s processing continued until completion, and the Sheriff’s Office transported him to the RSW Regional Jail.

“At every stage, Officer Pence did a good job that night,” Reiley said. “The medical experts looking at Mr. Funk said he was ready for discharge.”

Wilson said a mortality review board would examine the circumstances of Funk’s death and an internal review would also be conducted “to make sure our officers did everything right.”

While official findings have yet to be made, Wilson said the jail staff followed proper policies and procedures “as far as I know.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com