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

Deputies said the body found buried in a Port Richey yard was 21-year-old Jamie Ivancic. Her husband, Shelby Svensen, is charged with killing her parents and brother — and deputies say he confessed to killing his wife months ago.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said a body found in a yard at 10930 Norwood Ave. in Port Richey is 21-year-old Jamie Ivancic (bottom right), who lived there with her husband. Deputies say her husband, Shelby Svensen, killed her a year ago and then convinced her relatives she was still alive. Svensen is being held in an Ohio jail on three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his wife's parents, Richard and Laura Ivancic (top and bottom left) and their son Nicholas Ivancic (top right.) Their decomposing bodies were found at their Tarpon Springs home on New Year's Day. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times  /  Tarpon Springs Police Department]
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said a body found in a yard at 10930 Norwood Ave. in Port Richey is 21-year-old Jamie Ivancic (bottom right), who lived there with her husband. Deputies say her husband, Shelby Svensen, killed her a year ago and then convinced her relatives she was still alive. Svensen is being held in an Ohio jail on three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his wife's parents, Richard and Laura Ivancic (top and bottom left) and their son Nicholas Ivancic (top right.) Their decomposing bodies were found at their Tarpon Springs home on New Year's Day. [LUIS SANTANA | Times / Tarpon Springs Police Department]
Published January 8
Updated January 9

The last time Karma Stewart said she talked with her sister, Jamie Ivancic told her she was going to leave her husband, take their two children with her and go someplace she could never be found.

For the past year or so, no one could find Jamie Ivancic.

Stewart hasn’t spoken to her sister since that Jan. 25, 2018 Facetime call. There would be sporadic texts from the mother of two, but family and friends said no one actually spoke to her.

Now they know why: Her husband Shelby Svensen admitted to killing his 21-year-old wife a year ago, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Family mourns victims in Tarpon Springs triple homicide

Detectives revealed that at a Tuesday news conference, where they also confirmed that the body found buried in the yard of the couple’s Port Richey home on Sunday belonged to her.

Stewart said detectives told her she was most likely one of the last people to talk to Jamie Ivancic. While the Sheriff’s Office did not say how Svensen fooled people into thinking his wife was still alive, Stewart said he must have been the one responding to text messages and sending photos of their two children using his wife’s phone.

“I feel betrayed and that I was played,” Stewart said. “I didn’t expect the worst when I probably should have.”

Jamie Ivancic is the fourth member of the Ivancic family that authorities believe was killed by Svensen. Three family members were found dead New Year’s Day inside their Tarpon Springs home: Her father, Richard Ivancic, 71; mother Laura Ivancic, 59; and 25-year-old brother, Nicholas Ivancic.

Svensen, 25, is being held in an Ohio jail on three counts of first-degree murder and is awaiting extradition back to Florida. The three Ivancics were all beaten to death, according to Mike Ivancic, a son from Richard Ivancic’s first marriage. Three dogs were also found dead in the home.

He was arrested in Ohio on Jan. 3, authorities said, where he was driving Laura Ivancic’s stolen SUV. He had the couple’s two children, ages 2 and 3, with him. Authorities say he confessed to the three Tarpon Springs slayings.

Pasco investigators say Svensen also confessed to killing his wife. She died of “violent blunt force trauma,” said Pasco sheriff’s Col. Jeff Harrington, who said Svensen “was able to just trick” his in-laws into thinking his wife couldn’t talk on the phone. The Sheriff’s Office said it intends to charge Svensen with his wife’s murder.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Man arrested in Ohio is suspect in slaying of wife’s parents and brother at Tarpon Springs home

Stewart told the Tampa Bay Times that when she spoke to Nicholas Ivancic in June, he said Jamie Ivancic was living in Texas with Svensen.

Friend Sarah Deaton told the Times that she heard the same thing when she chatted with Laura Ivancic on Facebook.

“A few months ago I finally got a hold of her mom on Facebook and her mom said she was getting pictures of the kids and she was saying that Jamie was fine, just busy working and being a mom and that she was laying low, figuring things out,” Deaton said.

Svensen was telling people that his wife was too busy to return phone calls, family and friends said.

The couple met in early 2016. Svensen met his future wife because he was friends with Nicholas Ivancic and hanging out at their house, Stewart said.

Then in November 2017 they got married. But the brother and Svensen were no longer friends, Stewart said.

Stewart said she’s known Svensen since the fifth grade, when they went to school in Parma, Ohio together. She said she told Jamie Ivancic that he was often described as a pathological liar.

She said Jamie Ivancic was a loving and caring person, particularly toward her children. But Stewart said she could also be strong-willed while Svensen was controlling. Stewart said Jamie Ivancic told her that she and her husband frequently got into fights, but never described it as abuse.

But Stewart said Jamie Ivancic also showed her photos of bruises. Ohio police records show that husband and wife were both arrested on charges of domestic violence, accused of assaulting the other.

“I tried to convince her a couple times that she would be better off leaving him, just being a single mom with the support of her family,” Stewart said. “But I don’t think she ever considered it an option.”

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

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