LAFAYETTE, LA (WAFB) - The father of the missing UL student thinks more than one person is responsible for his daughter's disappearance. He says that person could be the missing link in the case.
An obviously shaken Tom Shunick is trying to process the chain of events that led to the arrest of Brandon Lavergne; the man police say is responsible for his daughter's disappearance. "I knew they had a suspect they thought was involved in this thing a week before the arrest was made," said Tom Shunick, Mickey Shunick's father.
Police believe Lavergne was driving the white truck following Mickey on her bicycle on May 19, 2012. It was captured on surveillance video outside the Lafayette Consolidated Government Building, the night Mickey went missing. Detectives said when fishermen found Mickey's bike at Whiskey Bay seven days later, the back tire was damaged. Mr. Shunick says he thought he had figured out what happened to his daughter.
"You can look at all the scenarios that could have happened. And this is one of them; a probable one. Somebody may have been out there, bumped her, grabbed her," said Tom Shunick.
That was just the beginning of the story. Tom later learned Lavergne was a convicted sex offender, a man who had been through the system as he put it. Just three days after the surveillance photos were released, authorities in San Jacinto County, Texas confirmed they found Lavergne's truck abandoned and burned. While investigators say they don't expect to make any more arrests in the case, Tom is convinced someone helped Lavergne.
"It was burned somewhere in Texas. Somehow he got there and got back. Did he ride with someone? Did he walk back? How did he get back?" said Tom.
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft would not comment on similar questions at Friday's news conference. Tom says he has told detectives to keep any new developments in the case to themselves. He says he just wants to know when his daughter is found.
Tom believes that authorities will find his daughter. "Maybe not alive, but they will find her."
As for what Tom has learned about his daughter's alleged kidnapper so far, he says he is not quite sure how, if convicted, Lavergne should be punished.
Meanwhile, a private investigator involved in the Shunick case is pooling additional resources.
John Abdella said he has been bombarded with phone calls since Lavergne was arrested on Thursday. He said most of the calls have come from Lawtell, La., the same community where police searched Lavergne's home for the better part of two days.
Abdella said he is checking on tips from people claiming they have found articles of clothing and "unfamiliar" tire tracks in their neighborhood.
He said a church group has offered him 4-wheelers and other resources to help him comb the areas police have already checked, just to make sure they didn't miss anything. He said volunteers have been helpful, but there is only so much they can do.
"Not anyone can go into pond and come out safely and conduct a constructive search," Abdella said.
Abdella said it might come down to draining ponds and digging to follow up on some of the leads he has gotten.
He also adds he is not sure the search at Whiskey Bay is done.
A friend of the Shunick's hired Abdella to help find Mickey.