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KSBY Investigates: The Ivan Nunez case - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

KSBY Investigates: The Ivan Nunez case

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Police say this picture of Ivan Nunez was taken the day he went missing and shows the clothes he was wearing at the time. Police say this picture of Ivan Nunez was taken the day he went missing and shows the clothes he was wearing at the time.

It was news that shook the community to its core: After months of searching, authorities found missing Santa Maria teenager Ivan Nunez dead.

Sheriff's officials determined his death was a suicide, but that was a tough pill for many family and friends to swallow.

Dozens of people were interviewed and hundreds of hours were worked in the search for Ivan Nunez.

Santa Maria Police Sgt. Paul Flores has worked countless cases in his long career, but he says this one sticks out in his mind.

"You know, you can never reach the point where you think you've found everything or looked everywhere,” Flores said. “But initially you have to cast a wide net to see what you can pick up, and we went in every different direction you could think of... I was a little surprised, to be honest with you. It wasn't the outcome I was expecting."

Ivan disappeared the day after Christmas. He had been celebrating his birthday with family members that day. His mother says she last saw him dancing, with cake on his face.

"What we understood was that he had been at the party, everything was fine, and then he disappeared,” Flores said. “Nobody actually saw him leave."

Law enforcement officials say Ivan's body was found in February off of Range Place, at a rural property on the Nipomo Mesa. They say he had no connection to the location where he was found.

Without a car or a driver’s license, to this day, police and sheriff's deputies still don't know how Ivan got there. Flores says it would take a person about two hours to walk from Ivan’s house to where he was found dead.

Flores says the case became muddy with rumors: that Ivan had answered a knock at his front door right before he disappeared, that his cell phone had been recovered in a field in Guadalupe.

But Flores says those things never happened.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's officials say Ivan hanged himself and there was no evidence of foul play.

For family and even police, it's a shocking outcome for someone who was a student athlete going through a seemingly normal life as a teenage boy.

“Teen suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised,” Flores said. “But given what I'd heard about Ivan, I was."

One month ago, KSBY submitted a Freedom of Information Act request, asking for the complete coroner's report on Ivan Nunez's death from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office. The department says the coroner’s report still has not been completed. Sheriff's officials say they'll send KSBY a copy of the report when it is finished.

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