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Former Bodybuilder Charged with Ex-wife's Murder

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By Roger Lockridge

The bodybuilding world received sad news on October 13 when the news was shared that former NPC bodybuilder Ian Christopher Baunach, age 49, was charged with the murder of his ex-wife Katie Baunach, who died at the age of 39.

The most disturbing aspect of the news came when police revealed that a search warrant of Baunach’s property led them to discover human bone fragments, decaying flesh, and a human mandible with an intact tooth. The parts of a human body were determined to be Katie’s. She had been considered a missing person in Hendry County, Florida starting on September 29th. According to People, prior to Katie’s death, she had filed an injunction for domestic violence against Baunach on behalf of one of her two children. She had dropped her children off at a friend’s home on September 29th to pick up personal belongings from Baunach’s home, and that was the last time she was seen alive.

Baunach is also being charged with destruction/concealing physical evidence, use of a two-way communication device to commit a felony, cremation of a dead body 48 hours after death, and failure to report a death. He was further charged federally with possession of an unregistered weapon after officers found silencers while executing the search warrant.

According to NPC News Online, Baunach competed in the NPC from 2014 to 2020. His last contest was the 2020 NPC Teen Collegiate and Masters Nationals. He had competed in the Classic Physique Masters Over 40 Class D contest, and he placed fifth. Some reports inaccurately stated he was a part of the IFBB Pro League, but he never earned his pro card.

Unfortunately for bodybuilding fans, this isn’t the first time that a homicide had been connected to the sport, and it’s not even the first time a fire was connected. In 2005, Nevada firefighters responded to a vehicle fire outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Inside the trunk of the car was the badly burned remains of Melissa James. An autopsy determined that James had actually been strangled to death by then pro bodybuilder Craig Titus and his wife, Fitness pro Kelly Ryan. James had been in a relationship with Titus and Ryan before her death. The car that James was found in belonged to Ryan.

Both Titus and Ryan made plea deals before a trial could begin. Ryan served 12 years in prison in total before her release on parole in 2017. Titus was sentenced to prison for 21 to 55 years in total. Ryan and Titus were divorced in 2009 while both were still in prison.

While Baunach’s connection to bodybuilding had been established, he wasn’t nearly as involved in the sport as Titus and Ryan had at the time their incident took place. Regardless of whether Baunach was still bodybuilding or not, the death of his ex-wife could directly be connected to domestic violence. Experts in the field will tell you that many victims of domestic violence are in greater danger once they finally leave their partners than they are while they stay in the relationship. This is why many victims choose not to leave initially.

It should be noted that for the time being, Baunach is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. There is no word on when a trial will be set or if he wants to negotiate a plea as of this writing.

Hopefully, this story can serve as a way to increase awareness for domestic violence and give insight to others so they can provide support to friends or family that they feel may be in such a situation. If you know someone in Canada that may be in a violent relationship, or trying to get out of one, you can find more information on how to provide support or get help by going to www.sheltersafe.ca or www.endingviolencecanada.org.

Readers from the United States can call the US National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or by going to www.thehotline.org.

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