Third suspect arrested in 2019 murder investigation

Baumgartner

The Warrick County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of a third suspect in the 2019 murder of a Boonville woman.

According to a release from the Warrick County Sheriff’s Office, Ivory Michelle Baumgartner, 36, of Wheatland, was arrested on Friday, June 12, in connection to the murder of Ruark. The remains of Valarie Ann Ruark, 32, of Boonville were found in April 2019 near Elberfeld. According to reports from police, her body was found when individuals who had been fishing in the area of Seven Hills and Wasson roads came across her remains.

Baumgartner’s arrest comes after her husband, Brian Baumgartner, 43, of Boonville, and Anthony Wolfe, II, 24, of Evansville, were arrested in May 2019 in connection with the murder of Ruark.

According to the Friday release, further investigation into the case by detectives revealed information leading to probable cause that Baumgartner was involved in the conspiracy to murder Ruark. The release states that Baumgartner has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, a Level 1 felony, assisting a criminal, a Level 5 felony, and obstruction of justice, a Level 6 felony.

Ruark’s remains were found in the area of Seven Hills and Wasson roads near Elberfeld on Friday, April 26.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, Ivory Baumgartner told police that she had no idea that anything had happened at her house, but surveillance video recovered from a DVR at the house allegedly shows her participating with Wolfe and her husband in cleaning a van connected to the murder and potentially burning evidence in a fire pit behind their home.

The investigation into Ruark’s death began when individuals who had been fishing in the area of Seven Hills and Wasson roads came across her remains, Warrick County Sheriff Michael Wilder said. While the individuals had passed the area multiple times, Wilder said the individuals didn’t notice the remains right away and at first thought they saw an animal carcass.

After further inspection, Wilder said the individuals realized that it was human remains and called 911.

Wilder said the area is mostly frequented by individuals hunting, fishing or watching animals and isn’t heavily populated overnight. He said the most common criminal activities in the area are trespassing hunters, improper firearm activity and underage drinking — activities that seem very small given the nature of the homicide investigation.

“The area is rural,” he said.

The Warrick County Sheriff’s Office began the investigation with the challenge of identifying the remains first found on Friday, April 26, 2019. Press releases from the sheriff’s office indicated that the body had been badly burned, but a release on Sunday, April 28, noted that investigators were seeking assistance in identifying the body and gave information about a tattoo that allowed tips to help identify Ruark. The sheriff’s office confirmed the identification of the human remains found Seven Hills and Wasson roads as Ruark on Tuesday, April 30, after announcing the day before that the investigation would be treated as a homicide investigation.

According to the release, Baumgartner is in custody at the Warrick County Jail on a $15,000 case bond. She faced her initial hearing on Monday, June 15.

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