Florida prosecutors have filed their intention to seek the death penalty for a bodybuilder ex-Marine charged with murdering his ex-wife and burning and hiding her body on his 5-acre property.
Ian Baunach was charged with pre-meditated murder, destruction of physical evidence, use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony, cremating a dead body 48 hours after death, and failure to report a death, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
Baunach has pleaded not guilty, and his attorney, Robert P. Harris, said that it was disappointing the state was seeking the death penalty since his client is a “war hero,” according to the Naples Daily News.
“Mr. Ian Baunach is a former United States Marine, a war hero who sacrificed his body and his peace of mind for his country. It is disheartening that the government he fought to protect and preserve is going after him with the ultimate punishment,” Harris wrote in a statement. “We maintain Ian Baunach’s innocence and will vigorously defend him in a court of law.”
Baunach was arrested in September 2022 after Katie Baunach, 39, dropped her children off at a friends home while she went to Baunach’s home to pick up belongings. She didn’t return, and a Hendry County deputy saw her car in Baunach’s driveway with her purse inside. He left when he couldn’t contact anyone inside the home and returned 45 minutes later to find the missing woman’s car parked on the street.
A search warrant uncovered “evidence that a homicide had occurred” in the home. The applied for and received a second search warrant that included Baunach’s property. He reportedly tried to keep them from executing that warrant.
Deputies found blood in several locations, including the trunk of the bodybuilder’s car and a hallway as well as signs of a struggle in the hallway. They also found Katie Baunach’s wedding and engagement rings in a safe in the house and illegal silencers and multiple weapons on the premises. The search also found unprescribed steroids.
Baunach told investigators his ex-wife came over and they argued, but he went to bed to avoid escalating. When he awoke, he said, she was gone. He had no explanation about why her car was still in his driveway and told them “they did not have a body” and Katie Baunach probably wasn’t even missing.
Later that day, however, deputies found a fragment of a human bone and an intact tooth in a burn pile along with a 50-gallon drum that “reeked of decaying flesh. Inside, they found another partial human bone.
The medical examiner determined the remains belonged to Katie Baunach and arrested her ex-husband on Monday. He is being held without bond.
The Daily News said that Baunach had been accused but never prosecuted several times in the past of domestic violence against Katie Baunach. Six weeks before her death, a judge denied her request for a protection order against him and told the divorced couple “to get over your anger at each other or whatever bad feelings you have toward each other, or suppress them, or do therapy or do something.”
Baunach is currently in federal custody awaiting trial on the firearms charges.
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[Featured image: Katie Baunach, left, and Ian Baunach/Facebook]