Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 7:39 am | Fair 45º


Missing Santa Maria Teen Found Dead, an Apparent Suicide

The remains of Ivan Nunez, 16, who disappeared the day after Christmas, were discovered in Nipomo

Santa Maria police announced Friday that the remains of 16-year-old Ivan Nunez of Santa Maria, who disappeared the day after Christmas, had been found, an apparent suicide.
Santa Maria police announced Friday that the remains of 16-year-old Ivan Nunez of Santa Maria, who disappeared the day after Christmas, had been found, an apparent suicide. (Contributed photo)

The mystery surrounding a Santa Maria teenager who disappeared the day after Christmas came to a tragic end on Friday when authorities announced his remains had been found, and it is believed he killed himself.

Ivan Nunez, 16, had not been seen since leaving his Santa Maria residence at approximately 11 p.m. on Dec. 26, during his birthday party.

"The Santa Maria Police Department is saddened to report that missing juvenile Ivan Nunez has been located, deceased as the result of an apparent suicide," the department said in a statement released late Friday afternoon.

"The remains were located in the Nipomo area of San Luis Obispo County and were positively identified today after an extensive identification process that included DNA analysis."

Cmdr. Jay Donovan of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department said Ivan's body was found Feb. 17 on private property where he apparently hanged himself.

The rural agricultural site off Orchard Road near Nipomo was heavily covered in vegetation, Donovan added.

Because the remains were found in southern San Luis Obispo County, that county's Sheriff's Department is handling the investigation.

Due to the condition of the body and length of time since the death, law enforcement officers used DNA samples from the remains and a family member to confirm the identity through testing conducted by the California Department of Justice.

There was no evidence of criminal activity or signs of foul play, Donovan added. 

The mysterious disappearance of the avid baseball player and Santa Maria High School student came as a wave of violence struck the city, with several homicides involving teen victims.

Members of Santa Maria Foursquare Church, located in the neighborhood where the boy lived, assisted the family and held prayer vigils for his safe return. 

Church officials noted on social media Friday night the police report that Ivan had been found deceased.

"We grieve over this news, and call our community to prayer on behalf of this precious family," the Santa Maria church's Facebook page said.

[Click here for suicide-prevention resources]

Noozhawk North County Editor Janene Scully contributed to this report.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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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