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One year later, no word on missing man


‘Absolutely nothing,’ mother says


Photo courtesy of the Funk family

Derek Funk, 19, has been listed as a missing person with the Knoxville Police Department.

By Beverly Majors |
Posted May 20, 2011 @ 08:41 PM


“All we do is pray,” said Tricia Funk.

Tricia and Kevin Funk’s eldest son, Derek Ryan Funk, is still listed as a missing person — one year after he disappeared while driving to his South Knoxville home.

Derek, who grew up in Oak Ridge, was last seen May 12, 2010, at a friend’s home in Powell. He left the house about midnight and hasn’t been seen — or heard — from since.

His parents, Tricia and Kevin Funk, longtime Oak Ridge residents, offered a $5,000 reward last December in hopes of turning up information about their son.

“There’s nothing, absolutely nothing,” Tricia Funk said Thursday.

Derek’s voice was last heard on the night he disappeared. His mother said he talked to a female friend for about 16 minutes. After that call — nothing.

When Derek failed to arrive home and then didn’t show up for work the next morning, his mother began calling his friends, then called the Knoxville Police Department.

Derek was driving a white 1996 Ford Ranger pickup truck when he left Powell that night. The truck has also not been found.

“If they (police) ever find the truck, I think they’ll find Derek,” Tricia said.

She added that friends on the Facebook page, “Derek Funk is Missing,” are speculating that he “took off to find himself or something.

“I don’t think he’d ever do that,” she said. “I think he would tell us. He always told us the truth. Unless Kevin and I are way off base; we may be wrong.”

The Funks are coping with the disappearance the best they can — trying to live a normal life. Brett Funk, Derek’s younger brother, is attending Pellissippi State Community College, and his parents are going about their day-to-day tasks.

“He’s still part of our family,” Tricia said. “We don’t ignore it. We talk about him a lot. We have good days and we have our bad days.”

Derek, a 2009 Oak Ridge High School graduate, turned 20 in October. He is 5 feet, 11 inches tall, and weighs about 130 pounds. He has blond hair and blue eyes. He has several distinguishing tattoos. His pickup truck tag number is TN 422-HHJ.

“I feel like somebody out there knows something,” Tricia said. “Somebody has to know something. I don’t think people just vanish from the face of the earth.”

If anyone has information about Derek Funk, call the KPD at (865) 215-7212, or the Funks at  (865) 483-1804.

Beverly Majors can be contacted at  (865) 220-5514.


Foul play suspected in case of missing South Knox man


Kevin Funk and his wife, Tricia, talk about their missing son, Derek Funk, at their home in Oak Ridge on March 3. Derek Funk hasn’t been seen since he left the home of a friend in Powell on May 10, 2010.


Kevin Funk and his wife, Tricia, talk about their missing son, Derek Funk, at their home in Oak Ridge on March 3. Derek Funk hasn’t been seen since he left the home of a friend in Powell on May 10, 2010.

Derek FunkDerek Funk

 On May 10, 2010, Derek Ryan Funk, 19, left the home of a friend in Powell, climbed into his white Ford Ranger pickup truck, and started on the 15-mile drive to his home on Coffman Street in South Knoxville.

He has not been seen since.

“We suspect foul play,” said Knoxville Police Department Investigator Phyllis Tonkin.

Last week, Funk’s parents, Kevin and Tricia Funk of Oak Ridge, decided their reward offer of $5,000 will be increased to $10,000, effective immediately.

“We hope this will be a factor in bringing someone forward who knows something,” Kevin Funk said. “It’s an added incentive for someone to talk.”

The reward is for information leading to his whereabouts, the location of his body or the conviction of anyone responsible for his absence. The offer remains valid through May 12, 2012.

The last person known to have seen and spoken with Derek Funk is his Powell friend, Lauren Owings.

She has told Funk’s parents and police that shortly after Funk left her to go home she called him on his cellphone. They talked for several minutes, then Derek said he felt tired, needed to concentrate on his driving and ended the conversation.

“When she called him back, it went straight to voice mail,” Tricia Funk said.

Derek Funk was friendly, considerate of others and had no known enemies, according to Tonkin, Funk’s friends and his parents. But Tonkin’s investigation turned up something unknown to his parents.

“We have determined that Derek had used drugs, to some extent,” she said. “And we believe that drugs may have something to do with his disappearance.”

“That was a shock to us,” Kevin Funk said.

Derek was mature for his age, his father said. For one so young, he was off to a good start on adult life. He had an option to buy the house he was renting. His welding skills landed him a job at East Tennessee Railcar Services. Co-owner Chris Williams described Funk as reliable, hardworking and diligent.

His work ethic was matched by a free spirit. At Oak Ridge High School, he was a skateboarder, and he once dyed his hair blue, the same color as his eyes. He declined to enter a gifted students program for which he qualified.

“He just wasn’t interested in that; he always wanted to be a welder,” Kevin Funk said. “He always had a knack for mechanical and technical things.”

More than a dozen tattoos were arrayed along Derek’s wiry 5-foot-10-inch frame. None suggests gang or cult connections, Tonkin said. Instead, they likely reflect an independent streak, as well as creative bent that also showed itself in artwork he was creating with his welding skills.

The tattoos include a wing above each elbow and a five-pointed star below each elbow. Each upper inner arm has a four-pointed star, and each inner wrist has black and red pinstripes.

On his left outer arm is a yin symbol, dead fish, the word “death” and a Cry Later theatrical face. The right outer arm has a light yang symbol, live fish, the word “Life,” Laugh Now theatrical face and a gun.

The words “Never Give Up” are on his stomach, the word “courage” on his right side.

There is a rose, wine and skull on the side of his right leg and a four-leaf clover on the top of his right foot.

Derek’s personal life was in transition. He and his girlfriend of several years, Dominique Fails, had just broken up. But she was staying at his house while she looked for a place of her own.

Fails has told police and Derek’s parents that he never got home that night.

“When he didn’t show up for work and we couldn’t reach him, (we knew) something was wrong,” said Williams. “That was eerie, so out of character for him. But when he didn’t even come by to pick up a last paycheck, that was downright chilling. We sure would like to know what happened.”

There has been no sighting of Funk’s truck, and no activity on his credit cards, bank account or cellphone. A search of his house revealed no signs of a struggle, Tonkin said.

Cellphone records confirm a call from Owings’ phone to Funk’s cellphone shortly after he was reported to have left her home. The ping was off a tower near the Walmart on Clinton Highway.

Attempts by the News Sentinel to interview Owings and Fails were unsuccessful.

There is some uncertainty over the license plate number on Funk’s truck. Most likely, it is 422-HHJ. But there could be a mix-up because of a three-way vehicle swap involving the truck, Kevin Funk said.

Tonkin said she and other investigators working the case have developed “some theories” about what happened to Funk, based on evidence and statements collected so far.

When asked about a suspect, Tonkin said: “There are some persons of interest. Some of them have been cleared. Some of them have not.” She declined to elaborate.

Since Derek Funk disappeared, his parents’ lives have been marked by a cruel combination of uncertainty and despair.

“If there is foul play, I would like to see justice, but I’m not out for revenge,” Kevin Funk said. “Alive or not, we just want our son back. I only have a glimmer of hope now (that he is alive). We feel like he is in God’s hands.”

“Not knowing where he is or what happened to him, that is the worst part of all of this,” Tricia Funk said. “And if somebody has done something to Derek, I would like to see justice done for him. And I would not want another parent to have to go through what we have been going through.”

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the KPD tip hot line,            865-215-7217      .

Jim Balloch may be reached at             865-342-6357      .



Get Copyright Permissions © 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.

Electronic Billboards Offer Funk Family New Hope

By John Disque

derek funkDerek Funk has been missing since May 2010. Today the Funk family has decided to upgrade their search and find new hope in modern advertising.

After a nine-month investigation and several interviews with key people, the Knoxville authorities are baffled and are suspecting foul play.

Funk called his parents (Tricia and Kevin) in Oak Ridge, TN every day. They describe him as outgoing with a free spirit. One day the daily phone calls stopped and since then there’s been a confusing void of unanswered questions.

Kevin’s father is convinced that someone knows something. While handing out and posting fliers throughout the past several months he wanted to take the information to a bigger platform and reach even more people. Today Funk’s parents have decided to continue their hope and have rented electronic billboards with Kevin’s description and picture while offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the return of their son. The billboards are scattered throughout East TN.

derek funkDerek left a friend’s house in Powell on May 12, 2010. He was driving a white Ford Ranger and was headed to his home in South Knoxville when something went wrong. He was never seen again.

It’s natural for someone’s immediate thoughts to be: Derek got mixed up with the wrong crowd; however, he has absolutely no criminal history. It’s also not realistic that he would just take off. He had a good job that he loved and was content with his life. He was family oriented and respected throughout the community.

Derek has blond hair and blue eyes. He’s 5’10” with a thin build. He has several tattoos and weighs 130 pounds.

If you have any information that could help investigators, please call KPD at   (865) 215-7212.


Knoxville Daily Sun


Oak Ridge parents offer reward for missing son

Posted: Dec 09, 2010 10:09 PM CST

Derek Funk, 19 at the time, left a friend's house the night of May 12th and never made it home.

Derek Funk, 19 at the time, left a friend’s house the night of May 12th and never made it home.

6 News Anchor/Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) – An Oak Ridge family is taking the search for their missing son into their own hands.

Derek Funk, 19 at the time, left a friend’s house the night of May 12 and never made it home. They say it’s completely out of character for him.

“He’d been at a friend’s house in Powell and he left there. They had stayed on the phone talking for a little while. He was tired. He said, ‘I’m going straight home. I’ll call you as soon as I get home.’ He never made it home,” said his mother, Tricia.

His parents retraced the 20 minute drive to South Knoxville. Police searched from the air, on the ground and in the water.

“It’s like he’s just disappeared off the face of the earth. He’s called no friends. He’s taken no money out of the bank. His cell phone is dead. Nobody has seen him. His truck hasn’t been found, nothing,” said his father, Kevin.

After seven months, and about to face their first Christmas without their son, the Funks have decided to offer a $5,000 reward for information.

“You would think that somebody saw something, maybe not knowing that they saw something,” Tricia said.

“We just need some tip for the investigators to be able to go in a direction that might lead them to him,” Kevin said.

They pray for answers every day.

“We don’t know if he’s alive or dead. We don’t know where he is. So I understand what they mean by closure now. We just want to know what happened to our son,” Kevin said.

Derek has blonde hair and blue eyes. He is 5’10” and weighs about 130 pounds.

He has several tattoos, including a four-leaf clover on top of his right foot, a rose vine with a skull on his right leg, the words “Never Give Up” on his abdomen, “Courage” spelled lengthwise on his right side and Corvette flags above both hips. He has a wing above each elbow and a five-pointed star below each elbow, and four-pointed stars on his upper inner arms. He has red and black pinstripes tattooed on each wrist, a Yin symbol with dead fish and the word “Death” on his left outer arm, and the Yang symbol with live fish and the word “Life” on his right outer arm. In addition, he has the Cry Later theatrical face and the Laugh Now theatrical face on his arms.

Derek’s white 1996 Ford Ranger pickup truck has never been located. He was driving the truck when he left Powell.

Knoxville police say they have spent countless hours searching for Derek and they continue to investigate.

If you have any information, please call   865-215-7212.


Police search for missing man in Knoxville


Posted: May 14, 2010 5:20 PM CDT

Derek Funk (source: Knoxville Police Department)Derek Funk (source: Knoxville Police Department)


KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knoxville police are looking for a missing man.

Derek Funk, 19, was last seen leaving his girlfriend’s house in Powell around midnight Wednesday.

Police said Funk never arrived at home, didn’t show up for work and is said to be severely depressed.

Funk is described as 5’11” and about 130 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes.

He drives a 1996 Ford Ranger pickup truck.

Anyone with information is asked call the police department’s crime information hotline at            (865)-215-7212   .

Photo Galleries » The status of previous missing cases profiled



Derek Ryan Funk, 19, Knoxville Nineteen-year-old Derek Funk was last seen on May 12, 2010 after leaving a home in Powell to return to his home in South Knoxville. Police have found little to help in their investigation into his disappearance.

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