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Tennessee man charged with murder of Muncie resident missing since 2016

A view of the 2016 Muncie, Indiana, home of Mark Trent in September 2013. (Photo Provided/Google Street View)

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — A Jamestown, Tennessee, man has been charged with murder in connection to the disappearance of a Muncie resident in 2016, the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday.

Ian Shelden, 41, is in custody in Tennessee on the charge of abuse of a corpse. Shelden was being held on a $55,000 bond in Fentress County, Tennessee. Delaware County authorities hope to extradite Shelden to Muncie on two counts of murder, and single counts of obstruction of justice, auto theft, fraud and theft.

Mark Trent was age 55 when reported missing on March 31, 2016. He’d not been in contact with family for a month, according to court documents for Shelden’s Delaware County charges. Police went to Trent’s home in the 3600 block of West 32nd Street and found his two dogs appeared to have been left “for an extended period of time.” Trent’s wallet in the home was empty, and his Dodge Ram pickup was missing. Trent had also missed some doctor’s appointments.

The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office on April 8, 2016, sought the public’s help to find Trent.

Investigators later checked Trent’s bank accounts and found they’d remained active, with purchases and withdrawals made from March 2016 to August 2016. Investigators later confronted Shelden with ATM surveillance video of him using Trent’s bank card.

Police later learned Trent had been living with a couple, Ian and Tracy Shelden. They’d moved out in December 2015. Police in 2016 tried to contact the Sheldens without success, but, with the help of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, found the couple in October. Ian Shelden told investigators a “falling out” had led them to leave Trent’s home.

In October, Ian Shelden told investigators he and Tracy Shelden had returned to Trent’s house at some time after they’d moved out, and he and Trent smoked cocaine and talked about the Sheldens moving back in.

“According to Ian Shelden, during this time Ian had asked Tracy to wait outside in the vehicle. Ian advised that at some point he and Mr. Trent went to a back bedroom when Ian used to stay. Ian alleged while in that bedroom Mr. Trent tried to seduce him. Ian alleges that he rejected Mr. Trent’s advance and attempted to leave the room. While leaving the bedroom, Ian alleges Mr. Trent grabbed his belt loop,” court document said.

That action led Ian Shelden to grab a 2-foot-long “tent stake” nearby and twice hit Trent in the face, causing Trent to start bleeding. Shelden later added that he also struck Trent a third time with the stake before he “never said another word,” the court documents said.

Ian Shelden said he next went outside and told Tracy Shelden to leave.

Ian Shelden then went back inside the house and “took steps to conceal the murder.” He put Trent into a closet, cleaned the house, then took Trent’s truck to a retail store to buy a large tote. He put Trent’s body in the tote, put the tote into Trent’s pickup, then drove to Tennessee. Tracy Shelden also drove to Tennessee in a separate vehicle.

After getting to Tennessee, Ian Shelden said he tried to burn Trent’s body, which proved unsuccessful. So, Ian Shelden took the remains and dropped them from the side of a steep mountain overhang.

On Oct. 21, Ian Shelden took investigators to that overhang, where they found a tote with a large number of human bones.

A Fentress County medical examiner later determined the bones were Trent’s and he died from “blunt force injuries” to the head, court documents said. The medical examiner also found evidence of “thermal injuries or ‘charring’” on the body.