Missing person case turns into homicide investigation in Hendry County

Published: October 6, 2022 5:28 PM EDT
Updated: October 10, 2022 8:25 PM EDT
Ian Baunach, 43 (CREDIT: Hendry County Sheriff's Office)

Hendry County detectives were investigating a missing person report which quickly evolved into a homicide investigation, according to the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office.

On September 30, a report of concern about a missing mother of two young children came to Sheriff Steve Whidden who immediately responded and acted.

39-year-old Katie Baunach stopped by her residence on September 29 and stepped out for a moment leaving her two young children at approximately 9:00 p.m. Katie said she was going to run by her ex-husband’s house to pick up a few things and be right back, according to the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office.

Through further investigation, the ex-husband was identified as 43-year-old Ian Baunach of Fort Denaud, Florida. Ian and Katie had a contentious relationship involving domestic violence, according to a report.

Sheriff Whidden sent a marked patrol car over to the residence of Ian Baunach, where Katie Baunach’s car was located in the driveway. After several attempts to make contact with either Katie or Ian failed, the patrol deputy left. Approximately 45 minutes later the patrol deputy again arrived at Ian’s residence and found Katie’s vehicle had been moved and parked on the side of the road abandoned. The driveway gate was locked to prevent any incoming traffic.

Detectives with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Unit and Major Crimes Unit quickly got a search warrant for the residence, under suspicious exigent circumstances, to search for Katie. A call was placed to Ian’s residence as deputies approached the residence.

According to HCSO, Ian was seen pacing in front of his house and refused entry to the deputies. The driveway gate was breached and deputies with the SWAT team approached Ian and secured him without incident.

As Detectives and SWAT members cleared the residence, they were unable to locate Katie. Deputies observed numerous things within the residence that led them to believe criminal activity had occurred. Detectives got a second search warrant seizing the residence and land as a homicide investigation.

Detectives spent four days with crime scene investigators combing the residence and five-acre parcel. Detectives discovered human remains at the residence and property of Ian Baunach. Detectives are not able to make an identification on the human remains at this time and are in the process of working with DNA testing, according to HCSO.

Ian is being held at the Hendry County Jail with a $325,000.00 bond on unrelated charges.