Newsmaker of the Year: Missing Burbank FBI agent dominates the news

It had all the intrigue one would expect for a story involving a missing FBI agent: a neighbor who said she saw the man acting strangely on the night before his disappearance; a massive manhunt; a family who pleaded for his safe return; a department-issued handgun, also missing.

The case of Stephen Ivens — the Burbank resident who was reported missing May 11 — generated widespread media interest, particularly after an exhaustive on-the-ground search conducted by more than 100 federal and local law enforcement officials failed to turn up a trace of his whereabouts.

It was the largest manhunt of its kind in Burbank, launched after Ivens was reported missing May 11 from his home in the 1700 block of Scott Road with his department-issued handgun, prompting authorities to warn that he could be a danger to himself. The massive on-the-ground search was called off days later.

Still, for roughly three months, the 36-year-old agent’s family and volunteers were unrelenting in their hope that he was alive and continued to scour their Burbank parks and hiking trials for clues.

Months later, it would be two hikers who discover Ivens’ decomposed body in a wooded area in the 3600 block of Scott Road near St. Francis Xavier School, a little more than a mile from his home.

Los Angeles County coroners officials said Ivens died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and ruled it a suicide. His service weapon was discovered next to his body.

That may have been where the investigation ended for police and the FBI, but not his wife, Thea, who throughout the ordeal maintained a heart-wrenching online journal about her experiences during the search. She and her family also organized several public candlelight vigils and news conferences to keep Stephen’s story in the public consciousness.

“Death — there’s such a finality in this word. As if suddenly, everything stopped. The end. And yet for me, my husband’s death is only the beginning,” she wrote in her online blog in October.

Even now, she is hoping to obtain more exact information about her husband’s time of death, which was determined to be July 30 — nearly three months after he was reported missing.

Thea Ivens and her family wants that changed to an earlier date because, she wrote on her blog, “three months is too long of a range.”

Meanwhile, Thea Ivens’ is trying to manage her work and spend time with their son.

In her latest post, she said “the tragedy that happened to our family had been taking its toll. At the end of the day, I was just exhausted so I’m trying to sleep more. At the same time, I didn’t want this website to be a pity party.”


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