Missing college student Mickey Shunick's body has been positively identified by officials this week. Dental and medical records helped identified the remains of the young woman who had been missing since May, and now a suspect, a sexual offender, has been charged with her murder.
"Today, we begin our lives without Mickey," a statement by Shunick's family said. "We have not just lost our daughter, and our children have not just lost their sister, but all of us have lost a part of ourselves."
Shunick went missing in May after an early morning bike ride home. Police immediately began reviewing surveillance tapes in order to put a timeline to the events before she vanished. They received a tip that led to an investigation in a remote area, which is where they found her body.
Brandon Scott Lavergne was arrested and interrogated by police, and now police are working to link him directly to the crime.
"There's a painstaking attention to details," Scott Mire told USA Today. "It just moves slow, because you process every single thing. In the end, the goal is to link this body to the suspect."
Investigators are taking great care to search the area where Shunick was found.
"The main thing is that you can't be in a hurry to dig," Dale Broussard, coordinator of the criminal justice program at South Louisiana Community College added. "Before you even touch that grave, you've got to methodically search that whole vicinity and look for anything you can connect to the crime."
From the beginning, Lavergne was the lead suspect, though police have refused to say if he had a previous relationship with Shunick. He has been charged with first-degree murder, but officials are waiting for test results to determine the official cause of death.