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Florida man charged with murder in connection with missing ex-wife after her remains are found in a burn pile

Katie Samantha Baunach was last seen Sept. 29 after she told a friend she was heading to her ex-husband Ian Baunach's home but failed to return.
Ian Baunach
Ian Baunach.Ian Baunach via Facebook

A Florida man has been charged with murder in connection with the death of his missing ex-wife after human remains were found in a burn pile on his property, according to court documents.

Ian Christopher Baunach, 43, was charged Monday in Hendry County, Florida, in connection with the death of Katie Samantha Baunach, who was last seen Sept. 29, the Hendry County Sheriff's Office said.

He was further charged with 13 counts of drug possession, failure to report a death to the medical examiner and destroying evidence, among other charges, booking records show. 

He was also federally charged in U.S. District Court for Middle Florida with possession of an unregistered firearm after authorities found 13 silencers in his home. 

A criminal complaint in the federal case reveals gruesome details of the alleged killing. 

Ex-wife filed domestic violence injunction before vanishing

Katie Baunach was last seen dropping off the two young children she shares with Ian Baunach at a friend's house at 9 p.m. Sept. 29, the complaint says.

She told the friend she was going to Ian Baunach’s home on Hidden Hammock Drive to retrieve some of her belongings, but she did not return.

She was reported missing the next day to the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office.

Earlier in the month, she had reported to the sheriff's office that Ian Baunach had physically abused one of her kids, and she received an injunction for domestic violence against him on behalf of the child, the complaint said.

Police discover blood in a vehicle, throughout the home

Katie Baunach
Katie Baunach. Katie Baunach via Facebook

Law enforcement officers arrived at Ian Baunach's home on Sept. 30 to search for Katie Baunach and found her car in the driveway with her purse inside. 

After they failed to make contact with Ian Baunach, officers returned later and found her car had been moved from the driveway onto the street.

After they got a search warrant the same day, law enforcement searched the home and "discovered evidence that a homicide had occurred there,” the complaint said.

Officials treated Ian Baunach's car in the garage by applying luminol — a chemical that reacts to blood by glowing blood — and found that the interior of the truck "glowed blue" after treatment, court documents said.

Authorities also found "signs of a physical struggle" in a hallway between the home's garage and foyer, noticing wall damage and a broken wall-mounted mirror in an office.

When they were treated with luminol, three walls of the home, including the hallway, glowed blue, the filing said.

Authorities also found a safe with Katie Baunach's wedding band and engagement ring in it. Officers said they learned she was wearing the wedding band and engagement ring when she left her friend's house Sept. 29.

Officials also encountered a cache of weapons — an AR-15 rifle upper receiver, 13 silencers of various configurations, two Glock pistols, three rifles and a shotgun — in the attic above the garage, with two of the rifles being compatible with silencers, according to the complaint.

In an interview Oct. 1, Ian Baunach denied Katie was a missing person, claimed that blood was found in his car because he had transported groceries and said he did not believe officers had found blood in his home.

He did, however, admit "to being angry that Katie Baunach filed for and received a domestic violence injunction against him,” the complaint said.

He told officers that she contacted him Sept. 29, saying she needed gas for her car. When she arrived at his home, they argued over another woman, and he went to bed, he said. When he woke up, she was gone, he told officers, according to the complaint.

Human remains found in burn pile and barrel

The grounds were searched Oct. 1, leading to the discovery of “the fragments of a human mandible with an intact tooth in a fresh burn pile,” the complaint said.

Authorities also discovered a blue 50-gallon barrel near the burn pile, “which reeked of decaying flesh,” the filing said.  

Inside the barrel, officers found an additional human bone fragment, and they found other suspected human bone fragments around the burn pile.

Baunach was arrested Oct. 1 on 13 drug charges relating to steroids found in his home, according to court records.

After the remains were found on the property and determined to be those of Katie, he was charged Monday with first-degree murder, as well as destruction/concealment of physical evidence, use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony, cremation of a dead body 48 hours after death and failure to report a death to the medical examiner. 

The federal complaint said the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives analyzed photographs of the 13 silencers and determined that they were subject to regulation.

ATF did a records check and found that Baunach had not registered the silencers under the National Firearms Act, did not receive a tax stamp as required by law and did not have a federal firearms license, culminating in the federal charge.

On Tuesday, he was appointed a public defender and ordered to be held in jail. His preliminary hearing will be Oct. 20 or 21 in Fort Myers, a judge ordered. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.