An arrest has been made and murder charges brought against a known sex offender in connection with the disappearance of Mickey Shunick. Brandon Scott Lavergne has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping.
Shunick went missing on May 19 after leaving a friend's house on bike in the early morning. She never returned home, and police began searching for the college student. Authorities used surveillance tapes to follow Shunick's final trip and noticed a white pickup on the video.
Lavergne owns a Chevrolet Silverado, which helped lead police to his residence. He is listed as a sex offender after being convicted in 2000 of aggravated sexual battery. Lavergne was released after serving eight years in prison and lives only six miles from where Shunick was last seen.
Police and volunteers feared the worst when Shunick's bike was found 27 miles away and heavily damaged. "We strongly believe that the person, or perpetrator, drove down to the edge of the water and dumped the bike into the water for it not to be found," policeman Paul Mouton told ABC.
"This is a big day for us," said volunteer Margaret Bearb. "This has been a long 47 days. That was, I think, the biggest moment," she said upon learning of Lavergne's arrest. "That feeling today when I got that phone call was because that [prayer] petition was in there, and it came true," she told KATC.com.
Police have not said what led them to execute a search warrant at Lavergne's home or whether he is being investigated for other crimes of a similar nature. Two years ago, a young woman also on her bike, and from the same area as Shunick, was offered a ride from a man in a white pickup truck. He propositioned the young woman, but she refused.
"He rides around town all the time, trying to pick up pretty girls," the woman told the Daily Mail. Whether or not it is actually Lavergne remains to be seen.