|San Jacinto News Times - Local News
Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company
Sheriff’s department provides key to missing Louisiana college student
COLDSPRING – Information provided by the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Department about a burned white truck found here led to the arrest of a 33-year-old man charged in the disappearance of Louisiana college student Michaela “Mickey” Shunick. Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said the burned truck found in San Jacinto County was the key to the arrest of Brandon Scott Lavergne who was booked Thursday with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping. According to reports, Shunick was last seen riding away from a friend’s house on a bicycle in the early hours of May 19. Lafayette detectives said surveillance video that picked up Shunick shortly after she left a friend’s house on May 19 led them to a white Chevrolet pickup that was seen in the same area. Police put out a community appeal seeking to identify the vehicle and its driver, but no one came forward. A break in the case came June 14 when a tip came into a phone hotline set up after Shunick’s disappearance. The tip led officers to a white pickup truck found burned in San Jacinto County on May 31. Craft said the truck was registered to Lavergne and had been reported stolen in Montgomery County. “Based on information and s u r v e i l - l a n c e , d e t e c - tives were able to positively i d e n t i f y the truck that traveled directly behind Shunick in the video as belonging to Lavergne. Investigators were also able to place Lavergne in and around the location of where Shunick’s bicycle was found. Craft said Lavergne was arrested Thursday after a state police traffic stop on I-10 on an unrelated warrant. Craft said Lavergne had tampered with his driver’s license so it no longer indicated he is a registered sex offender. Sex offenders in Louisiana are required to have driver’s licenses that display a code identifying them as such. According to the state’s online list of registered sex offenders, Lavergne was convicted of aggravated oral sexual battery in 2000. He was released in 2008. Shunick vanished days before her 22nd birthday. She was reported missing by her family when she didn’t return home, home, missed her brother’s high school graduation and failed to answer calls to her cell phone, according to Craft. Her black, Schwinn bicycle was found by local fishermen eight days after she vanished in a remote swampy area under a highway bridge about 25 miles east of Lafayette in Iberville Parish Craft said the damage to the rear tire was consistent with damage associated with being struck by a vehicle.