EVANGELINE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Officials with the Lafayette Police Department strongly believe they have found the body of missing ULL student Mickey Shunick. Corporal Paul Mouton with the Lafayette Police Department says the body was found in Evangeline Parish.
Mouton says the remains were found buried near a cemetery off Highway 10. LSU forensic specialists are on the scene to help positively identify the body. Officials have been there since mid-morning. Mouton says they will be out there collecting evidence until nightfall.
A statement was released on behalf of the Shunick family:
We appreciate all the efforts of the law enforcement agencies, searchers and volunteers.
We know that the media has reported that Mickey Shunick's body was found in Evangeline Parish, however, as of right now, and until an official press release is made by the proper officials, we cannot report either way, that a body found was that of Mickey.
Also, we ask that you please respect the Shunick family by allowing them the privacy they need at this time. It has been, and still is, a long journey in the search to find Mickey, so we truly feel that they deserve some time alone until they are ready to respond to the current rumor.
Margaret L. Bearb
Vol. Headquarters Coordinator
Mickey Shunick disappeared in Lafayette in the early morning hours of May 19, 2012, while riding her bike home. Hundreds of volunteers helped police in the search.
The first big break in the case came eight days after she disappeared; when fishermen found her bike in a swampy area of the Atchafalaya Basin, 25 miles from where she was last seen.
The FBI joined multiple local agencies in the search, including examining waterways near where the bike was found.
As days passed, police knew chances of finding her alive were fading, but her family held out hope as national media picked up the story and police were flooded with thousands of tips.
Then on July 5, 2012, word came that police had a suspect, Brandon Scott Lavergne. After some investigation, he was charged with the murders of two women, including Shunick.
According to a police report out of Jefferson Parish, Lavergne was treated for stab wounds at a hospital around 10 p.m. on May 19. The report stated Lavergne couldn't remember where he was attacked and he got vaguer as he was questioned.
Deputies said Lavergne told them someone at a gas station attacked him with a knife or sharp weapon when he stopped to ask for directions, but was unable to remember where the alleged attack occurred. They said he couldn't give street names, buildings or any details about the area where he claimed he was attacked.
Investigators said Lavergne eventually stopped cooperating and that's where the investigation into the alleged attack stopped. Lavergne was treated at the hospital and released.
Lavergne, 33, is a convicted sex offender. The Louisiana State Police arrested him during a traffic stop on July 5 in Lafayette. He was taken into custody because troopers said he failed to register as a sex offender from a case dating back to 2000. In that case, he was charged with aggravated sexual battery.
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said after being arrested by state police, Lavergne was brought to the Lafayette Police Department and, during initial questioning, Lavergne requested an attorney and refused to answer any further questions.
Lavergne is an offshore worker. Police said he had been working offshore for the past two weeks just prior to his arrest. Investigators spent several hours searching Lavergne's home on July 5.
Surveillance video from a business showed Shunick riding her bike home on May 19. It also showed a white truck in the area at the time. Craft said a burned truck that was discovered near Houston, TX in June was later found to be registered to Lavergne. He added detectives were able to identify the truck found in Texas as being the same truck shown in that surveillance video.
Police say the bicycle that was found in the Atchafalaya Basin had damage consistent with it being hit by a vehicle. Craft said his detectives have evidence showing Lavergne was around the Whiskey Bay near the time that bike was discovered.
At the time of his arrest, Lavergne was driving a white pickup that is the same model as the one he previously owned. Craft said records show Lavergne purchased another truck, almost identical to the first, after Shunick disappeared.
Lavergne pleaded not guilty to all charges, including counts related to the 1999 death of another woman, Lisa Pate.