Police: Man Fooled Family Into Thinking His Wife Was Alive

Shelby Svensen was arrested in Ohio last week
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2019 9:25 AM CST
A Family's Murders Lead to Another Chilling One
This Jan. 4, 2019 photo provided by the Lakewood Police Department shows Shelby John Nealy in Lakewood, Ohio. Nealy was caught with a car stolen from a Florida home where a couple and their son were found dead. Their daughter, Nealy's wife, remains missing.   (Lakewood Police Department via AP)

(Newser) – Four members of the Ivancic family are dead, and the timeline is a chilling one. It began to unravel on New Year's Day, when police arrived at a home in Tarpon Springs, Fla., to do a welfare check. Ohio natives Richard and Laura Ivancic, 71 and 59, lived there with their 25-year-old son, Nicholas, but in the previous weeks, neighbors had observed an odd smell, reports the Washington Post. Police discovered why: The three adults were dead inside, having been beaten to death. Their three dogs had been killed as well. On Tuesday, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office announced their 21-year-old daughter, Jamie, had also been found dead—but police say she had been killed nearly a year prior and buried in the yard of her Port Richey home. The alleged killer of all four? Her husband. More on the case:

  • Jamie's husband, Shelby Svensen (who also goes by the name Shelby John Nealy), was tracked to Lakewood, Ohio, based on Home Depot and pawn shop activity, reports Fox 8. The 25-year-old was arrested Thursday, and had the couple's two children, ages 2 and 3, with him. The Tampa Bay Tribune reports he confessed to all four murders, saying he had killed Jamie in early 2018 and managed to fool her family into thinking she was alive but wasn't available to come to the phone.

  • Jamie's sister, Karma Stewart, says detectives told her she was likely one of the last people to have a conversation with Jamie—the two Facetimed on Jan. 25. She says her sister told her she planned to leave her husband and take the kids somewhere he wouldn't find them.
  • She believes Svensen pretended to be Jamie in the occasional texts and photos sent to family. "At this point, it would appear he was able to just trick them into thinking she was unavailable or she was somewhere else," said Pasco Sheriff’s Col. Jeff Harrington. "This is a situation where you have somebody who engaged in horrific criminal activity."
  • Svensen is awaiting extradition to Florida. Police have not revealed a motive in the killings of Jamie's family, but did note jewelry, heirlooms, and video games had been removed from the home. Fox8 reports police believe they were killed Dec. 19 or 20.
  • As for Jamie's death, News 5 Cleveland reports an initial autopsy suggests she died from blunt force trauma; it's believed she was killed at the Port Richey home where her body was found buried.
(Read more murder stories.)

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