HENDERSON, LA (WAFB) - Investigators are redirecting their focus in the search for a missing college student after what they thought was a smoking gun failed to produce any additional clues.
The Lafayette Police Department has stopped searching the Whiskey Bay area of St. Martin Parish for missing ULL student Mickey Shunick. Crews combed through the area after fishermen found the 22-year-old's bicycle underneath I-10 Sunday.
They were spread across the dry, rough terrain looking for any evidence that might lead them to finding Shunick. They scoured every puddle of water and patch of woods surrounding the one-mile radius near the site where the bike was discovered.
"We have actually checked this waterway from here to Morgan City," said Police Chief Jim Craft. "We still have boats in the water searching by sonar."
Crash said the fishermen found the bicycle submerged in water. However, he would not say what condition it was in when the outdoorsmen happened upon it.
"We are now processing that for evidence. Our crime scene techs are going over the bike to see if there is any additional information to help us find this missing person," Craft explained.
Authorities decided to discontinue efforts in that area Monday afternoon. Officials said they are now determining the next area to continue their search. Craft said it is still too early to tell what may have happened the morning Shunick disappeared.
"You always have to assume there's foul play involved. The longer the case goes on without her being located, the slimmer the chances of finding her," Craft added.
Police have no suspects in the case. Despite the amount of time that has passed, Shunick's friends continue to try to remain optimistic.
"Obviously, it's a very emotional thing to find something so vital to the case," said Josh Coen. "But, I think we got to look positive on it because if we don't, no one else will and I think that is a very important thing. We have an amazing lead and it's just a next step to bring her home."
Shunick was last seen leaving a Lafayette home on May 19 around 1:45 a.m. Surveillance video from a business captured video of what the Lafayette Police Department said is Shunick on her bike just before 2 a.m. Investigators reported a late model four-door pickup was seen on the video in the area where she was riding.
Shunick is 5'1" and weighs about 115 pounds. She has blond hair. There is a $25,000 reward for information leading to her location.
Volunteers set up a new headquarters Monday at Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette. It marks the third location since Shunick's disappearance. Search parties are using social media to help police gather clues.
Police in Indiana have contacted authorities in Louisiana about their search for a missing college student. Bloomington investigators say the two cases are very similar. Lauren Spierer, 20, disappeared last June after a night out with friends. She is also blonde and petite. In both cases, surveillance video showed a white truck in the area where the women were last seen.