2 men arrested after body found buried in Old Louisville basement

Published: Jun. 18, 2010 at 7:10 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2010 at 10:54 PM EDT
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By Shayla Reaves - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville couple charged with murder appeared before a judge Saturday morning and pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, robbery and tampering with physical evidence.

Police discovered a body in the basement of a home in the 1400 block of South Fourth Street Thursday night. The discovery came after LMPD Fourth Division officers responded to a domestic dispute between Joseph Banis and Jeffrey Mundt at the residence.

According to the police report, Mundt had barricaded himself in his locked bedroom because Banis "was attempting and threatening to kill" him with a knife. Responding officers found syringes, needles, glass pipes and hollow fake cigarettes filled with methamphetamine in Banis's possession at the scene. He was charged with burglary, terroristic threatening, possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia in the domestic case.

Faced with arrest, Banis revealed alarming details about his partner.

"He did give a statement to detectives implicating his boyfriend, Jeffrey Mundt, in a homicide and that the body was located in the basement where they had been staying," said LMPD Lt. Barry Wilkerson. "Kind of an isolated area of the basement, very far away from where anybody would be able to smell anything."

Wilkerson said detectives discovered the body in a rubber tub at least three feet beneath the surface of the dirt basement floor. The victim died from a gunshot and several stab wounds according to the police report. Wilkerson said police believe the man was murdered in December.

The victim's name has not been released pending family notification by the coroner. Investigators say the suspects knew the victim police sources say is from Lexington. Wilkerson said he didn't believe the victim had been reported missing.

"Apparently this individual was involved with them in a sexual relationship," Wilkerson said. "It appears that they had made some type of plan of robbing him of narcotics. During that robbery, that's when the murder was committed."

Clarke Megill is the treasurer for the South Fourth Street Association and lives a few houses down from the home involved in the case.  He said he has lived on South Fourth Street for the last four years and did not know anyone lived in the home involved.

"I thought it was in the process of being renovated and so I was really kind of unaware that anyone was actually living at the premises," Megill said."Somebody actually doing something like this, I've never heard of anything like this before since I've been here. Out walking the dog and I noticed there was a forensics lab which concerned me a little bit. I looked up here and saw seven or eight police officers."

Mundt and Banis are both charged with murder, robbery and tampering with physical evidence.

In April, the two were arrested in Chicago after Mundt tried to exchange a fake $100 bill for smaller denominations with a nine-year veteran staff member at a Hyatt Regency Hotel. The doorman who asked to remain anonymous, said the wet cash was as green as a tulip leaf. Two security checks confirmed the cash was counterfeit.

"There were three police cars and numerous policemen and a police sergeant here," the Hyatt Regency Hotel General Manager Patrick Donnelly said."These two guys were spread eagle at the police van."

When arrested police said Banis carried a loaded glock semi-automatic pistol. Items found in the hotel room included two other guns, knives, two bottles of suspected "date rape" drug, fake I.D.s and $50,000 in counterfeit cash according to police.

It is unclear what the couple's weekend plans involved in Chicago. The men forced to appear in court.

Banis was charged with three counts of unlawful use of a weapon, possession of a phony identification card, possession of drug paraphernalia, misdemeanor theft, possession of a controlled substance and not having a Firearm Owner's Identification Card.

Banis's prior record includes drug convictions in Ohio, Kentucky and New Jersey. He is a self employed former University of Louisville Student.

Mundt graduated from Indiana University in 1995 and worked as a general contractor according to Assistant State's Attorney Erin Antonietti. He previously worked at Northwestern University for three years as a full-time employee in the Office of Change Management. The university confirmed his service as the Director of Finance with the same department.

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