Tarpon Springs triple homicide: Three killed to hide one murder, records show

Shelby Nealy spent a month in an Ohio jail but was extradited back to Pinellas County on Saturday.
Shelby Nealy aka Shelby Svensen was indicted by a grand jury on three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. The 25-year-old is accused of killing three members of the Ivancic family and their three dogs in Tarpon Springs just before Christmas, then fleeing to Ohio. He was returned to Pinellas County on Saturday. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
Shelby Nealy aka Shelby Svensen was indicted by a grand jury on three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. The 25-year-old is accused of killing three members of the Ivancic family and their three dogs in Tarpon Springs just before Christmas, then fleeing to Ohio. He was returned to Pinellas County on Saturday. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
Published February 2
Updated February 4

In order to cover up one murder, police say Shelby Nealy killed three other people.

Nealy bludgeoned Richard and Laura Ivancic and their grown son, Nicholas, before Christmas, according to newly released court records, because they were starting to suspect something had happened to their daughter Jamie.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: The ‘black sheep’: Friends recall a troubled past for Tarpon Springs murder suspect

She was Nealy’s ex-wife, and authorities believe he killed her in January 2018. Then he used Jamie Ivancic’s phone to send texts and photos of their two young kids to fool her family into thinking she was still alive, police said.

When that started to unravel, according to a criminal complaint, Nealy told a detective what he planned to do about it:

“Jamie’s parents, Richard and Laura Ivancic, were starting to get suspicious because they had not heard their daughter’s voice . . .,” a detective wrote in the complaint. So in December, Nealy drove his ex-wife’s car to their Tarpon Springs home “with the intent to kill all three victims.”

Their bodies were discovered on New Year’s Day. Nealy, a.k.a. Shelby Svensen, was arrested Jan. 3 in Lakewood, Ohio.

After spending a month in an Ohio jail, the 25-year-old Nealy was extradited to Florida on Saturday. He was booked into the Pinellas County jail on three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and one theft of grand theft auto, jail records show. He was being held without bail.

Nealy has not been charged in the death of Jamie Ivancic, who was found buried in a yard about 12 miles away soon after her family was found dead. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office believes that Nealy killed her a year ago and that it intends to pursue charges.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Tarpon Springs murder suspect pretended wife was still alive, deputies say

Court records in the other murders, however, reveal Nealy confessed to killing his ex-wife and her three family members. Those records also show how detectives tracked him down, and what other evidence links him to the murders — including a pizza he had delivered to the Ivancics’ home after he killed them.

Nealy ambushed each family member with a hammer starting Dec. 15, records show. He attacked Richard Ivancic, 71, first. Police did not say, however, if Nealy broke into the family’s home or was invited in.

When Laura Ivancic, 59, returned home later that day, records show Nealy killed her in the kitchen with the same hammer. Then Nealy wrapped the two bodies in rugs and placed his in-laws in a bedroom.

That evening, Nicholas Ivancic, 25, returned home. He was asleep on the sofa, records show, when Nealy used the same hammer on him early Dec. 16.

The family’s three dogs were also found dead in the home. Records reveal nothing about their deaths. Nealy then ransacked his in-laws’ home, police said, stealing video games and jewelry.

Nealy had driven his ex-wife’s car to Tarpon Springs, records show, but the tag had expired. So he stole Laura Ivancic’s 2013 KIA Sorento and drove to Ohio with his two kids, ages 2 and 3. He planned to return to Tarpon Springs to dispose of the bodies, records show.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Family mourns victims in Tarpon Springs triple homicide

Then on Jan. 1, Richard Ivancic’s son from a previous marriage contacted Tarpon Springs police and said he hadn’t heard from his father since Dec. 13, and that Laura Ivancic wasn’t responding to Facebook Messenger texts.

When officers went to the house, they found flies and a “strong odor of body decomposition.” An officer entered through an open sliding glass door, found the three bodies and said the house had been “ransacked.”

Police put out an alert for Laura Ivancic’s missing car and started tracking Nealy’s cellphone. They found Nealy in Ohio and alerted authorities there. Local police found the stolen car on Jan. 3 and arrested Nealy on an outstanding Ohio warrant. The kids were found unharmed and placed in state care. Officers also spoke to Thomas Altenbernd, 22, who said he and Nealy had moved in together just days earlier on Dec. 26.

Altenbernd said Nealy brought a cooler into the kitchen that contained two wallets, a coin collection and money. Nealy told Altenbernd the wallets belonged to Richard and Nicholas Ivancic. Nealy said he needed them to get a job because he had a criminal record. Altenbernd told police that Nealy said he wanted to kill his in-laws.

The complaint also details the evidence Tarpon Springs police say they gathered against Nealy, aside from his confession:

He was captured on video buying supplies used in the murders at a nearby Home Depot. There is video of him selling jewelry at pawn shops from Dec. 16-18, and he used his fingerprint to complete the transactions. A T-shirt he was seen wearing to the pawn shops was found at the crime scene.

And Nealy used his own phone to have a Domino’s pizza delivered to the crime scene on Dec. 21.

Contact McKenna Oxenden at [email protected] Follow @mack_oxenden.

Advertisement