UPDATE: Lafayette Police Say Brandon Scott Lavergne Thought to Be Mickey Shunick’s Killer, Was ‘Looking for Someone to Victimize’
While they stopped short of saying so, Lafayette Police made it clear that it is believed that Mickey Shunick is dead, and the man suspected of killing her -- Brandon Scott Lavergne -- was "looking for someone to victimize" when he picked her up. When asked directly if there were any clues as to Shunick's final resting place, Lafayette's police chief replied: "No."
One of the new items revealed was that the white Chevy Z-71 truck being sought by Lafayette Parish detectives has been discovered in San Jacinto County (north of Houston, Texas) burned out. The truck was initially seen on a security camera at a Lafayette Consolidated Government building along the route Mickey was thought to have taken that night. We also discovered that one of the wheels of Mickey's bike had been damage in a manner consistent with being struck by a vehicle, according to Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft.
[EDIT: Previous versions of this story stated that the video showed Mickey getting into the Chevy truck. This was an error from an older version of the story that had not been properly updated. I deeply apologize for the error and any misunderstandings it may have caused.]
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft had no further motive in Shunick's abduction other than "(Lavergne) is a sex offender."
Lavergne was pulled over by Louisiana State Police at the intersection of I-10 and I-49 in Lafayette at around 2:30 p.m. Thursday for a routine traffic stop. There was a warrant out for his arrest, so he was brought in for further questioning. It was revealed that Lavergne had altered his driver's license to hide his sex offender status. Get the full details of the story in our live-blog of the press conference below.
our live-blog of today's press conference.
1:15 p.m. -- No knowledge if she was sexually assaulted. Press conference ends.
1:14 p.m. -- She was abducted between St. Landry and St. Mary near the Blackham Coliseum. Craft refuses to comment on whether or not there was a bite-mark from Shunick on Lavergne's hand. Lavergne is an offshore worker and has been offshore for the last two weeks. What was the motive? Craft simply says "He's a sex offender."
1:13 p.m. -- Any clues as to where the body may be? Craft says no.
1:12 p.m. -- Craft says Lavergne may "have been looking for someone to victimize" when he picked up Shunick. There is no bond on the first-degree murder charge. Will be held in Lafayette Parish Correctional Center.
1:11 p.m. -- Lavergne was picked up for a traffic violation. He was listed as in good standing on the state's sex offender website. He had altered his driver's license, however, to hide his status as a sex offender.
1:10 p.m. -- Craft declines to explain why they think Shunick is dead other than from talking to Lavergne.
1:09 p.m. -- Lavergne was picked up by state Police at 2:30 yesterday. There seems to be no connection between Lavergne and Shunick.
1:08 p.m. -- Any evidence of a struggle? No answer. No answer on whether her DNA found in Lavergne's home.
1:07 p.m. -- Question and answer time -- Craft said officials can place Lavergne at the area where the bike was dropped off, but did not share why.
1:06 p.m. -- Chief Craft is thanking the agencies who helped in the investigation.
1:05 p.m. -- Lavergne has refused to cooperate. He was pulled over for an unrelated traffic stop. They questioned him because there was a warrant for his arrest for an unrelated matter.
1:04 p.m. -- Mickey's bike was found with damage to rear tire , consistent with being struck by a vehicle. Vehicle reported stolen in Texas and later found in San Jacinto County. It had been burned. Detectives matched this truck to the one in the video. It was owned by Lavergne.
1:03 p.m. -- Lavergne believed to be responsible for Mickey's disappearance. Video evidence was recovered that saw Mickey on her bike the night she disappeared. All vehicles that followed her were ruled out except for a white Chevy Z-71.
1:02 p.m. -- Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft has taken the mic. He extends appreciation to the Shunick family and the law enforcement agencies involved. "Though an arrest has been made, much work remains to be done."
1:00 p.m. -- The press conference is under way.
The story broke on Thursday night as Lafayette Parish officials announced that they had scheduled today's press conference. Officials searched his trailer in Lawtell and carted off several bags of possible evidence. By the end of the evening, he'd been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping. (You can read the arrest warrant.)
It turns out that Lavergne had previously served time for sexual offenses and has been registered as a sex offender with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office since 2000. He was officially convicted for aggravated oral sexual battery against a 19-year-old female victim while serving as a soldier at Fort Polk.
Given the number of volunteers that searched for Shunick, emotions are high over Lavergne's arrest. One Lafayette-area store even went so far as to construct the following announcement:
Shunick went missing on May 19 at around 2 a.m. after leaving a friend's house on a bike. That same bike was later found by a fisherman along the Whiskey Bay Bridge 27 miles away. Hundreds of volunteers spent weeks in search for her, and concerned citizens put out a $25,000 reward for information leading to her recovery.