LAFAYETTE — A St. Landry Parish man was booked Thursday on first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping counts in the May 19 disappearance of 22-year-old Mickey Shunick, police said.
Brandon Scott Lavergne, 33, a registered sex offender, was booked at 5:45 p.m. Thursday while detectives searched his mobile home near Lawtell in rural St. Landry Parish.
Lafayette police confirmed Lavergne’s arrest was in connection with the Shunick case, but declined to discuss any further details until a news conference scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.
St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said his office assisted Lafayette police in the search of Lavergne’s home at 143 Elaine Lane near Lawtell.
“We are looking for physical evidence related to the Mickey Shunick case,” Guidroz said.
The sheriff said investigators arrived at the mobile home about 2 p.m. and were expected to remain on site at least until 11 p.m. He declined to discuss what evidence might have been found.
Detectives were seen carrying three large bags off the site about 8:22 p.m. and placing them in the back of an SUV.
Lavergne was required to register as a sex offender following a conviction in 2000 on an aggravated oral sexual battery charge, according to the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office sex offender registry.
He was accused of tying, blindfolding and sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman while he was stationed as a soldier at Fort Polk, according to a news story that was published in The Advocate at the time.
One of Lavergne’s neighbors, Shirley Busby, said Thursday that she knew little about the man.
“He keeps to himself,” she said. “I see him just on the weekend.”
Lavergne was being held without bond.
Detectives seized Lavergne’s cellphone during the arrest, according to booking records.
Shunick was last seen about 2 a.m. May 19, leaving a friend’s house near downtown on her bicycle, riding toward her parents’ home about five miles away.
She never made it.
The disappearance of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette student led to a groundswell of community support, prompting large, volunteer-driven search efforts and an outpouring of donations.
On the police front, the search for the young woman led to one of the most extensive investigative efforts in the history of the Police Department, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft has said.
The only major break that has been made public in the case is when fishermen found Shunick’s black Schwinn bicycle in the Whiskey Bay area on May 27.
The bicycle was submerged in water next to the bank and the rear tire was damaged.
Police confirmed last week that the lead investigator had received some information from the State Police Crime Lab regarding the bicycle.
The Police Department created a mini task force of officers from area law enforcement agencies to dig into the case, and the group has met twice daily to discuss leads and evaluate evidence in the case.
Police had manned a 24-hour tip line, which generated 1,000 tips early on, but the department stopped manning the phone line around the clock after tips slacked off in early June.
Attempts to reach the Shunick family on Thursday evening were unsuccessful.
contributed to this report.
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