A Florida man faces a first-degree murder charge in connection with the ghastly death of his ex-wife.
The suspect, reportedly a bodybuilder and ex-U.S. Marine, who also stands accused of other charges, including cremating a body within 48 hours after death, failure to report a death to the death to a medical examiner, evidence tampering, and possession of controlled substances without a prescription, is currently being held in Hendry County Jail on a no-bond basis.
According the Daily Mail, Ian Christopher Baunach, 43, allegedly burned his former spouse and mom of two “in an oil drum in the backyard.”
He has reportedly pleaded not guilty.
The news outlet added that Katie Banauch, 39, was last seen on September 29 when she allegedly went to her ex-husband’s house to get some of her personal belongings.
“In November 2021, Baunach…was arrested on charges of domestic battery by strangulation, and was released the same day on $25,000 bond. Ten months later, in September this year, Katie Baunach took out a restraining order against him, accusing him of abusing one of their children,” the Daily Mail reported.
“A search warrant was obtained for Ian’s home because Baunach was still nowhere to be found. During the four-day search, detectives determined that remains found on the property belonged to Katie Samantha Baunach,” according to CBS affiliate WINK,
A related federal criminal complaint filed by a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent, who was investigating an unregistered gun violation, explained the following:
On or about October 1, 2022, law enforcement searched the property grounds surrounding the Premises. Law enforcement discovered the fragment of a human mandible with an intact tooth in a fresh burn pile, and discovered a blue fifty-gallon barrel near the burn pile which reeked of decaying flesh. Inside the blue fifty-gallon barrel, law enforcement discovered an additional human bone fragment. Law enforcement discovered other suspected human bone fragments in the area surrounding the burn pile.
Officers allegedly found Kate Baunach’s wedding band and engagement ring in a safe at the residence. They also allegedly found traces of blood in the trunk of the man’s vehicle and in the residence hallway as well as purported evidence of a struggle.
The suspect told cops that he and Kate had argued about another woman, but she had left the property when he fell asleep.
“On or about September 30, 2022, at approximately 1:00 p.m., law enforcement executed the search warrant at the Premises and discovered evidence that a homicide had occurred there. Law enforcement then applied for and received a second search warrant to search for evidence relating to the possible homicide of Katie Baunach,” an earlier section of the complaint indicated.
Cops initially spotted Katie Baunach’s car parked in the driveway, and it was allegedly later moved to the street.
“Baunach denied killing his ex-wife, and told them there was no body and she had disappeared,” the Daily Mail noted.
“Attorney Joseph Gerard Viacava, who represented Baunach in the strangulation case, told Law&Crime…that we will have to see what evidence emerges in discovery. ‘I wouldn’t presume he’s guilty.'”
All suspects are presumed innocent until or unless they are convicted in a court of law of any alleged crimes.
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