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April 19, 2001

Crime victims program aids victim's mother

TUMWATER -- Shirley Tuthill eagerly awaited April 15, 2000. She'd planned a fun day that included apartment hunting for 40-year-old Deborah Funk, Tuthill's daughter.

When Tuthill didn't get the telephone call she'd expected from her daughter that morning, she became alarmed. Her fears abruptly turned to a horrifying reality when she entered Deborah's Federal Way apartment.

Someone had stabbed her daughter "so many times in the back of her neck and ripped the knife around - it broke her spinal column," Tuthill said.

She had been raped and stabbed to death with her own steak knife, Tuthill said. The assailant "used her cell phone.and then he tried to fix himself a meal. The only place they could find fingerprints was on the meat he'd fixed."

Funk's alleged assailant had prior convictions. He served six years for a 1991 conviction for raping a woman and in 1998 pled guilty to second-degree assault. According to Tuthill, trial for the death of her daughter has been postponed.

Tuthill will share her ordeal on April 24 during Crime Victims Awareness Day, sponsored by the Department of Labor & Industries. The event is part of national Crime Victims Rights Week beginning April 22. The intent is to promote a greater understanding of victims' needs and raise awareness of the services and support available to them.

Tuthill was able to get reimbursement for her daughter's funeral expenses through the Crime Victims Compensation Program managed by Labor & Industries. The program also picked up the remaining cost of counseling services that her insurance didn't cover.

The Crime Victims Compensation Program provides resources to help victims and their families such as health-care benefits, counseling, partial wage-replacement benefits, and help with funeral costs, among others.

"My daughter and I were so close. She was my best friend," Tuthill said. "I just can't imagine any worse victim than a mother losing a child."

"Victims of assaults, domestic violence or child abuse often are left in a wake of pain, financial burden and sometimes loss. Many victims lack resources to help them," said Cletus Nnanabu, the program's manager. "Our program can help ease some of that burden."

The April 24 public event is 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Labor & Industries' auditorium, 7273 Linderson Way SW in Tumwater. Speakers will be discussing the release of sex offenders and how it impacts our communities. The tentative list of speakers is:

  • Cletus Nnanabu, manager of the Crime Victims Compensation Program
  • Director Gary Moore, Department of Labor & Industries
  • State Sen. Jeralita Costa
  • Shirley Tuthill
  • Sgt. Andrea Alexander, King County Sheriff's Office
  • Robert Strayer, Department of Corrections

Each year, the department handles nearly 6,000 claims for innocent victims of crime. About 45 percent of allowed claims are related to a sexual assault. Seven of every 10 claims for children are related to sexual assault.

More information about assistance for crime victims can be found on the Internet at: /insurance/cvc.htm

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