A Florida man accused of killing his ex-wife and hiding her body on his five-acre property was previously of strangling the victim.
Ian Baunach, 43, is locked up at the Hendry County Jail on a count of first-degree murder and other charges, records show.
Deputies said they received a report on Sept. 30 about Katie Baunach, 39, being missing, according to local outlets. A friend described last seeing her the day before and that she had gone to pickup her possessions from her ex-husband’s home, authorities said. Katie left her two young children with that friend, investigators reportedly said. But she did not return from her ex’s home, the friend said.
Investigators determined Katie Baunach and her ex-husband Ian Baunach had a rocky relationship and that there was a history of domestic violence. Online records show Ian was charged last November with a count of committing domestic battery by strangulation. Prosecutors dropped the case on Jan. 31, 2022.
In the ensuing missing person case, deputies claim they arrived at the suspect’s property and found the victim’s car in his driveway. No one was home. Deputies said they returned 45 minutes later to find that Katie’s car was moved — abandoned on the side of a road — and the driveway gate locked.
Ian Baunach was pacing around and refused to let them inside, investigators asserted. Authorities said they obtained a search warrant by this time, breached his gate, and detained the suspect without incident. Deputies searched his home. They could not find Katie, but they claimed to find a lot of steroids there. Ian allegedly said those belonged to him.
Detectives said they later discovered Katie’s remains on the five-acre property.
Baunach’s prior criminal history also includes being booked into the Hendry County Jail on Dec. 17, 2021 for contempt of court.
He is now locked up for the aforementioned murder charge as well as cremating a body prior to 48 hours after death, failure to report death to a medical examiner, use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony, and tampering with evidence. There are also a number of drug charges: possessing a controlled substance without prescription.
Records do not show an attorney for this new case.
Attorney Joseph Gerard Viacava, who represented Baunach in the strangulation case, told Law&Crime the alleged victim in that matter was Katie Baunach.
The lawyer said that in his and his client’s opinion, she was using the strangulation claim as leverage to increase her divorce settlement. He maintained that the state would not have been able to prove the allegation — there was nothing corroborating what she said, only her statement. He acknowledged, however, that the strangulation case, though dropped, was a “negative factor” in the new murder case.
Viacava emphasized that we will have to see what evidence emerges in discovery.
“I wouldn’t presume he’s guilty,” Viacava said.
[Booking photo via Hendry County Jail]
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