Husband Allegedly Tricked Family into Thinking His Murdered Wife Was Still Alive for a Year

man pretended to be dead wife in text messages

It's been almost a year since Karma Stewart last spoke to her sister, Jamie Ivancic. During that Facetime conversation, 21-year-old Ivancic reportedly confided in Stewart that she was planning to take her two children and leave her husband for good. But the mom was never able to make her plan a reality. On January 8, detectives confirmed that Ivancic was recently found dead and buried in the yard of her Port Richey, Florida, home, and her husband had allegedly been fooling her family into thinking she was still alive for a year.

  • Ivancic was allegedly killed by her husband, Shelby Svensen, last January.

    Col. Jeff Harrington of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said in a press conference that since the woman's death, Svensen has been able to trick her family "into thinking that she was unavailable, she was somewhere else, and she was unavailable for a phone call." 

    Police are still investigating how he might have been able to do this for so long, but Stewart now believes that Svensen had been using his murdered wife's cell phone to respond to text messages from loved ones and send them photos of the couple's kids throughout the year. “I feel betrayed and that I was played,” she told the newspaper. “I didn’t expect the worst when I probably should have.”

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  • But Ivancic isn't the only one that Svensen allegedly murdered: Police had also discovered three other bodies.

    Svensen was finally caught after allegedly killing his wife's mom, dad, and brother earlier this month.

    Richard Ivancic, 71, Laura Ivancic, 59, and Nicholas Ivancic, 25, were all found beaten to death in their Tarpon Springs, Florida, home on New Year's Day. Three dogs were also found dead in the home, which is about 10 miles away from the home where Ivancic lived, according to KETV.

  • Svensen and his children vacated their home following his wife's murder and have been living in "various places," according to Harrington.

    It's unclear why he allegedly returned to the area to kill his wife's parents and brother, but he was later spotted driving his dead mother-in-law's stolen SUV in Ohio with his two children, ages 2 and 3. He was arrested on January 3 and reportedly confessed to killing his in-laws. That’s when Florida police announced that his wife, Jaime Ivancic, was missing under suspicious circumstances. Pasco County investigators said Svensen later confessed to killing his wife as well.

    According to Harrington, Ivancic died from "violent blunt force trauma," and Svensen added that he "was able to just trick” her family into thinking that she couldn’t talk on the phone for these past 12 months. 

  • Ivancic and Svensen reportedly met in 2016 and were married in November 2017.

    Stewart told the Tampa Bay Times she’s known Svensen since the fifth grade and warned her sister that he was often described as a pathological liar. She also said Jamie Ivancic and her husband frequently got into fights, and Ivancic showed her photos of bruises.

    "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,” she said. “But I don’t think she ever considered it an option.”

    The couple's children are now in the care of child welfare authorities, and police are working with the state attorney’s office and officials in Ohio to extradite Svensen to Florida so he can face charges in his wife's death.