UPDATE: Lafayette Police Believe They’ve Found Mickey Shunick’s Body
After a tense afternoon of back-and-forth in the media, Lafayette's Police Chief Jim Craft confirmed to multiple media outlets that officials believe they have found the body of missing UL-Lafayette student Mickey Shunick, who has been missing since May.
According to reports from the Daily Advertiser and KLFY-TV 10, police received a "credible tip" earlier today that led them to La. 10 between Mamou and Oakdale. Remains were found there in an old cemetery, and while an exact medical match has yet to be made, Craft said he believed the remains were Shunick's.
The discovery could be very bad news for suspect Brandon Scott Lavergne who was indicted for Shunick's first-degree murder two weeks ago -- despite the fact that her remains had not yet been found. Lavergne will also stand trial for the death of Acadia Parish woman Lisa Pate, whose body was discovered in 1999.
While KLFY originally broke the news shortly after 3:45 p.m., competitor station KATC-TV 3 refused to confirm that the remains might be Shunick's, citing that her family had not yet been notified. The two outlets slugged it out with competing reports for the next two hours before Craft's statements shortly after 6 p.m. (You can follow our coverage of the story below.)
The question does probably deserve some consideration -- at what point should news 'break' a story like this? With confusion over whether or not family members were notified, it's safe to say that a least SOME people close to Mickey found out about today's events through the news instead of from police. Should the news hold off on such proclamations, or does the story deserve to be broken whenever a source gives a confirmation? If you look at Facebook comments that raged on KLFY's and KATC's sites today, it's certainly an issue with legs.
But putting all that aside tonight, we ask that you say a prayer for the Shunick family this evening. Regardless, they got the worst possible news today, and our hearts go out to them.
BELOW IS OUR LIVE-BLOG OF THE BREAKING STORY FROM THIS AFTERNOON.
UPDATE 6:12 p.m.: Lafayette's Daily Advertiser reports confirms KLFY's report, though Craft said police are not "100%" certain. Craft said family members have been notified, and continued testing will take place.
UPDATE 6:09 p.m.: KLFY reports that Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft has confirmed the body is Shunick's.
UPDATE 6:05 p.m.: KLFY says the body was found along La. 10 between Mamou and Oakdale. A "credible tip" came in today. Cpl. Paul Mouton from Lafayette Police says the information from the tip was "very accurate." Mouton said they are trying to confirm the ID of the body, but KLFY is now saying that the body is "most likely" Shunick. KATC, meanwhile, went on Facebook to ask people NOT to post that Shunick has been found. Forget the Olympics, THIS is real ping-pong.
UPDATE 5:43 p.m.: Family members of Mickey Shunick confirm they have not been notified that their loved one has been found. While KLFY sticks to their claim that they have confirmation Shunick has been found, KATC released a statement from the family:
UPDATE 4:49 p.m.: KATC is maintaining that no one from Shunick's family has been notified that Shunick has been found. Meanwhile, WBRZ out of Baton Rouge claims that Mickey Shunick task force officials have confirmed that a body was found, and it was Shunick's. Here's that video:
UPDATE: 4:42 p.m.: Even if Mickey Shunick's body is found, it is relatively clear that no family members have been notified, despite all the news reports going around. One way or another, the question of the day is going to be, what responsibility do news organizations have to hold off on news until families are notified? Feel free to discuss in the comments below.
UPDATE: 4:21 p.m.: The Lafayette Police Department seems to have issued a blanket statement that a search is going on, though no details are being released. Our sister station KPEL Radio in Lafayette states that there is a large police presence "northwest of Mamou near Oakdale."
UPDATE 4:07 p.m.: Baton Rouge's WBRZ is also on the "Mickey is found" bandwagon.
UPDATE: 3:58 p.m.: Conflicting reports are coming out. KLFY states on their Facebook that Shunick's body has definitely been found, and it's been confirmed by law enforcement. KATC is stating that a man's body was found in Evangeline Parish, that the Shunick family has received no such notification, and that a Shunick discovery is a rumor.
UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: The Baton Rouge Advocate also reports that task force members are searching off La. 35 in Evangeline Parish near an old cemetery.
ORIGINAL POST: KLFY-TV 10 in Lafayette is reporting that the task force searching for missing UL-Lafayette student Mickey Shunick is in Evangeline Parish, while other reports are surfacing that the young woman's body has been found.
Media coverage was breathless a month ago when law enforcement officers searched several mounds near Lawtell. The mounds, however, turned out to be nothing. Is this another false alarm, or will the Shunick family finally be able to put some closure to what has become several months of emotional torture.
In the meantime, Brandon Scott Lavergne has been indicted for her murder, despite a lack of a body, and is also on the hook for an unsolved Acadia Parish murder from the 1990s. We'll keep you updated as this story unfolds ... or doesn't unfold.