STEEN, Ivan (1887-1932) was found dead with his throat slit in Frenchy's cabin on West Anacapa Island. Frenchy had gone to town for a month, and Steen was watching his place. Frenchy found the body upon his return to Anacapa. It was thought Steen, an alcoholic, was experiencing alcohol withdrawal and took his own life with one of Frenchy's knives. The Ventura County coroner ruled his death a suicide.
Steen is buried in Ivy Lawn Cemetery, Ventura. No next of kin was known.
In the News~
February 15, 1923 [SBMP]: “Planking from Eagle is taken as evidence of seaman’s death. Fishermen friends of Captain Frank E. Nidever have found what they have persistently looked for ever since the veteran fisherman and mariner disappeared during a storm on February 1, and dreaded to find — wreckage from Captain Nidever’s fishing boat, Eagle. The wreckage consisted of a section of the deck of the Eagle and bits of the pilot house. It was found by fishermen on the south side of Anacapa Island. The find was made four days ago, but word reached here only yesterday. It was brought up by I. Steen and Charles Hanson, San Pedro fishermen, to the Larco Brothers, employers of Captain Nidever.”
March 4, 1932 [LAT]: “Santa Barbara March 3. On the lonely, rocky island of Anacapa, thirty miles off the Pacific coast here, the body of Ivan Steen, a veteran fisherman, was found today. His throat was cut. The Ventura County sheriff’s office is investigating the possibility of murder.”
March 4, 1932 [SBMP]: “Knife death of Anacapa Island fisherman believed suicide. Investigation of the death of Ivan Steen, Anacapa Island fisherman, indicates the man died of self-inflicted knife wounds it was reported last night by Coroner Oliver Reardon, of Ventura county. The man’s body was found yesterday morning in his cabin on the island, his throat slashed. Coroner Reardon, accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Carl Wallace of Ventura county, left Santa Barbara for the island on a Larco brothers boat, immediately after word of the finding of the body was received. They returned last night. The officers reported that they found two knives, one in one room and one in another. It was indicated the man stabbed himself once, staggered into the adjoining room, and then cut his throat. Steen was a Norwegian, and was about 45 years old, it was reported. Coroner Reardon said that he has not found any trace of relatives. The officers questioned fishermen on the island yesterday with reference to any ill-feeling against the man, it was reported, and concluded death was the result of self-inflicted wounds after further investigation. Anacapa Island is in Ventura county.”
[unknown, 1933]: “The Ventura County coroner this morning ordered that the body of Ivan Steen, 45, of Santa Barbara, found dead with his throat cut on Anacapa Island on Wednesday, should be buried following a verdict of suicide. It was the coroner’s statement that the lonely Norwegian fisherman, who sold his output to Santa Barbara markets, had financed a protracted alcoholic orgy with his last haul of fish, and returning to his little shack on the barren Anacapa cliffs, had become despondent and found his solitude unbearable. Two blood stained kitchen knives were found in the fishing hut. Examination of the knives, the wounds inflicted and blood stains on the floor, convinced the coroner and a physician, who examined the body that Steen had tried unsuccessfully to inflict a mortal wound with a small knife and, failing, had returned to the kitchen to get a heavier knife with which he delivered a deep self-inflicted wound that was almost immediately fatal… Steen did not live entirely alone. He had a fishing and house partner by the name of ‘Steve,’ but the two men alternated in going to the mainland with fish and for provisions so that the one ‘at home’ usually was alone for several days at a time. Steve, who cannot now be located by the Ventura coroner and whose last name is not known even to the persons who buy his fish in Santa Barbara reported Steen’s death. He told Ventura officers that he returned to Anacapa Island to find Steen dead. Steve aid he knew nothing about Steen’s death except that the latter had just returned from the mainland where he had been drinking. Steve, after making his report, departed. He is said to be at another island fishing camp because he did not desire to sleep with a dead man in the house and did not want to move the body until officers arrived…”