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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 2:21 am | Fair 47º


A Month Later, Santa Maria Teen’s Whereabouts Still A Mystery

Ivan Nunez disappeared from birthday party Dec. 26; family, police seek information

A month after he disappeared, there is still no sign of 16-year-old Ivan Nunez of Santa Maria.
A month after he disappeared, there is still no sign of 16-year-old Ivan Nunez of Santa Maria. (Contributed photo)

A month after Ivan Nunez disappeared during his birthday party, the Santa Maria 16-year-old’s whereabouts are still a mystery, and his mother remains desperate for her son’s return.

Ivan went missing from his home in northwest Santa Maria between 11 p.m. and midnight on Dec. 26. 

“I’m desperate for my son,” said his mother, Gaby Nunez, speaking through a translator. “The more questions I’m asked, the more desperate, the angrier I become. I just want him back. I will give anything to have him back. 

“Whoever has him, please bring him back.” 

The family was celebrating Ivan's 16th birthday when he disappeared.

Gaby Nunez said she turned around and lost track of the teen, who attends Santa Maria High School and plays on the baseball team.

“My son has a right to live. He’s a very good smart boy. He has a very good mind. He’s very intelligent,” his mom said. “All I want is for him to be returned.”

Baseball is a big part of life for Ivan Nunez, a student at Santa Maria High School.
Baseball is a big part of life for Ivan Nunez, a student at Santa Maria High School. (Contributed photo)

Detective David Culver from the Santa Maria Police Department said investigators have not received any information as to why Ivan left his home. 

“It’s suspicious from the standpoint of the time frame and the fact he hasn’t come home and has made no attempts to contact this family,” Culver said.

Nearly two weeks after his disappearance, police added Ivan's name to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).

A week later, his fellow students at Santa Maria High School returned from winter break Jan. 13, but Ivan did not. 

The boy has no history of running away, Culver said, adding that police have not found that the boy was connected to gangs or drugs.

“As of right now, we have no evidence any criminal activity has taken place either,” Culver said Monday.

Ivan has black hair and brown eyes, is 5 feet, 6 inches tall, and weighs 150 pounds. At the time he disappeared, he was wearing a blue-gray hoodie, blue jeans and black shoes.

The boy recently had received a cell phone as a present and apparently took it with him when he left.

The family believed they had located the phone’s last place of use as being near West Main Street and Ray Road after conducting a search via a website. 

But that search result could not be re-created for police, and based on information later obtained by detectives, the phone would have been turned off when the family claims that “ping” occurred.

“That information is unconfirmed. We don’t have confirmation it’s factual at this point,” Culver said. 

Detectives determined the cell phone either lost power or was turned off early Dec. 27, making it impossible to get a GPS location or a cell phone ping, Culver said. 

In the weeks since Ivan went missing, police have talked to those who know the teen, urging anyone to contact police with information about his whereabouts.

“There are a few things we are making a point of investigating as the case progresses, but it’s nothing we have evidence to say it’s a valid lead at this point,” Culver said. 

Adding to the mystery is why the boy would disappear as his favorite sport’s season nears.

“Baseball is pretty much his life,” Culver said.

While police investigate the boy’s disappearance, family and friends have distributed fliers around town and posted on social media about the missing teenager. 

The community has responded in various ways, including from the nearby Santa Maria Foursquare Church.

A group of men reportedly conducted a search for the missing boy on a recent Saturday.

Prayer vigils have been held at the family’s house and nearby church. And Ivan’s disappearance was mentioned during a prayer walk held in the neighborhood in response to a spike in violence in the city.

“We’re standing with them,” said Pastor Tim Mossholder of Foursquare Church. “We’re praying for them. We’re reaching out to them personally, that they know we are on their side and standing with them.

“We won’t forget,” Mossholder added.

Anyone with information about Ivan’s whereabouts is urged to contact the Police Department at 805.928.3781. The family also has offered an award for information leading to finding Ivan.                    

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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