Lafayette Police have arrested 33-year-old registered sex offender Brandon Lavergne for the kidnapping and first-degree murder of missing University of Louisiana college student Michaela “Mickey” Shunick.
Shunick was last seen alive on May 19 after leaving a friend’s home on her bike. Investigators said she was supposed to attend her younger brother’s graduation later that day, but she never showed up.
During a press conference last Friday, police said on June 14 they received a tip about a white Chevrolet Z71 pick-up truck that police identified as a vehicle of interest back in May.
The other vehicles of interest were ruled out, but the White Chevrolet Z71 was never located and the owner never came forward, police said.
Investigators said they were able to determine the vehicle was registered to Lavergne and that the truck was captured on surveillance video travelling directly behind Shunick the night she vanished.
Lavergne’s vehicle was reported stolen in Montgomery County, Texas and later located in San Jancito County, police said during the press conference. The truck was found burned just days after police released the photographs of vehicles of interest.
Detectives said they were able to place Lavergne in and around the location of the Whiskey Bay Bridge, where Shunick’s bike was discovered on May 26 with damage to the rear tire consistent with being struck by a vehicle. However, police have not said how they were able to place Lavergne at the scene.
Louisiana Sate Police conducted a traffic stop on July 5 and arrested Lavergne on unrelated outstanding warrants. During questioning, police said Lavergne requested an attorney and refused to cooperate any further with the investigation.
Cpl. Paul Mouton from the Lafayette Police Department told HLN investigators searched Lavergne’s house last Thursday and Friday, however, police won’t say what they seized. Police said they are learning more about Lavergne’s routine which is providing them with additional places to search.
Court documents obtained by HLN confirmed Lavergne was convicted in 2000 of aggravated oral sexual battery. Lavergne was released from prison in 2008 and was on probation until November 2010. The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website confirms Lavergne is a level-3 sex offender, the most serious level, which requires him to register for life.
The Nancy Grace Show reached out to Lavergne’s attorneys for a comment, but calls were not returned.
Lavergne is now charged with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping, however, police won’t say why they believe 21-year-old Mickey Shunick is dead.
“We're hoping and praying that she's still out there somewhere,” Mickey Shunick’s father, Tom Shunick, told HLN’s Nancy Grace.
Anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Mickey Shunick is encouraged to contact the Lafayette Police Department at 337-291-8633.