Man sentenced to 76 years for brutal beating, kidnapping of a truck driver

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | Monday, April 21, 2014

A man was sentenced to 76 years in an Indiana prison for severely beating, robbing and kidnapping a Tennessee truck driver.

Tyrone Winkleman, 34, was sentenced in Elkhart, Ind., Circuit Court on April 17, after he was convicted by a jury in late March of robbery causing serious bodily injury, kidnapping, criminal confinement and carjacking. Winkleman also admitted to the judge to being a habitual criminal offender. He was facing a total of 150 years in prison.

Heather Norman, communications director for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for Elkhart County, Ind., told Land Line on Monday that Winkleman lured truck driver James Armagost, 68, of Tennessee, over to him by “faking medical distress and asking for help.”

When Armagost, a Vietnam veteran, approached Winkleman to help, Winkleman brutally attacked and robbed Armagost. The attack took place at the Budget Inn in Elkhart, where Armagost had stopped for the night on July 25, 2013.

After sustaining serious injuries to his face, Armagost was forced to get in the passenger’s seat of his rig. According to a media release provided by the prosecuting attorney’s office, Winkleman then drove the injured trucker around in his rig for several hours “buying drugs, liquor and soliciting a prostitute with the stolen funds.”

The release states that while witnessing Armagost “bleeding profusely from the face,” partially because he was taking Coumadin, a blood thinner, Winkleman forced Armagost “to forgo medical treatment while he drove around Elkhart for several hours.”

The release states that Winkleman also denied Armagost his nitroglycerin tablets he took for a heart condition, which were kept on his truck key chain.

According to the newspaper The Elkhart Truth, which covered the trial, Winkleman allegedly tried tying up Armagost with hotel towels at the Budget Inn first before forcing him to get in the truck and driving him to a mobile home park. Once there, Armagost was locked in a shed for a time on the property. He was then driven back to the hotel, after Winkleman picked up a friend and stopped at a liquor store.

“At the hotel, Armagost convinced Winkleman to let him stay outside (in the truck) while Winkleman and his friend had sex,” the news outlet reported. “Armagost was able to escape to a nearby McDonald’s where he met with an officer and told him what he had just experienced.

According to trial testimony, Armagost feared “that after being threatened by Mr. Winkleman throughout the evening, Mr. Winkleman would simply kill him and leave him in one of the ‘many swamps’ in Florida once Mr. Armagost’s next load was delivered and Mr. Winkleman had obtained the money from that job,” the media release from the prosecuting attorney’s office stated.
Winkleman is also awaiting trial on separate charges. A day before Armagost was beaten and kidnapped, Winkleman allegedly robbed and locked two women, Janice Kramer and Betty Schmuhl, in a closet at an Elkhart hair salon, Studio 327, on July 24, 2013. Winkleman has been charged with robbery while armed with a deadly weapon and criminal confinement. His trial date has been set for June 30 in that case.

Winkleman had also been incarcerated on felony convictions in three separate incidents. Two occurred in September and October of 2002 in Santa Fe County, N.M. He was also incarcerated in Bernalillo County, N.M., in March of 2009.

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