LAFAYETTE — A grand jury is set to meet next week to consider first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping charges against Brandon Scott Lavergne, arrested in the May 19 disappearance of Mickey Shunick, 15th Judicial District Attorney Mike Harson said Tuesday.
Lavergne, a 33-year-old offshore worker from the Lawtell area and a registered sex offender, was arrested Thursday.
He was linked to the white Chevrolet Z71 truck recorded by a security camera shortly after the same camera captured an image of Shunick passing by on her bicycle, according to police.
Police say they have yet to locate Shunick and continue to investigate the case.
“Apparently, they think they have enough to proceed to the grand jury at this time,” Harson said.
He said Lavergne’s case is to be brought on July 18 to the grand jury, a group of citizens who must essentially sign off on the charges against Lavergne if the case is to proceed.
Meanwhile, investigators continue to search for evidence, but Lafayette police spokesman Cpl. Paul Mouton declined to discuss where police are searching or what they have found.
Mouton did say that police are not looking at additional suspects at this time.
“Currently, we feel this is the only arrest that will come out of this investigation,” he said.
Private investigator John Abdella, who began working with Shunick’s family the day after she disappeared, said a volunteer search effort continues, and that tips called into his office have increased dramatically since Lavergne’s arrest last week.
Abdella said most of the calls have come from people who knew Lavergne’s family or who live near Lavergne’s home on Elaine Lane in rural St. Landry Parish, reporting anything and everything that might be considered unusual.
“They are noticing tire tracks and things. It’s unbelievable,” Abdella said.
Abdella said he is forwarding all tips to police but has also continued his own investigation.
“A few things look promising, but it is going to take some time,” Abdella said. “There are some wide-open spaces, a lot of woods in Louisiana.”
Shunick, who would have turned 22 two days after her disappearance, was last seen shortly before 2 a.m. on May 19 leaving a friend’s house at 100 Ryan St., near downtown on her black Schwinn bicycle, riding toward her parents’ home on Governor Miro about five miles away.
Police have said that Lavergne was initially developed as a suspect after investigators received a tip June 14 connecting him to a white Chevrolet Z71 truck.
Police obtained a security video May 25 that showed a Z71 traveling in the same direction as Shunick near downtown shortly after she had passed on her bicycle.
That truck was registered to Lavergne and was reported stolen in Texas and later found burned on May 31, a few days after police released a video image of the vehicle, Police Chief Jim Craft said at a news conference last week.
Craft also said that investigators have information linking Lavergne to the area under the Interstate 10 Whiskey Bay Bridge where Shunick’s bicycle was found May 26, though the chief has declined to elaborate on that evidence.
Lavergne’s arrest this week comes about four years after his release from prison, where he served eight years on an aggravated oral sexual battery conviction for tying up, blindfolding and then sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in Evangeline Parish in 1999.
Lavergne’s supervision on the charge ended in 2010 with no violations, according to state Department of Public Safety and Corrections spokeswoman Pam Laborde.
He had first lived in Acadia Parish after his release but then moved to St. Landry Parish.
Sheriff’s offices in both parishes said this week that he reported as required to register as a sex offender.
Editor’s Note: The story was changed on July 11, 2012, to say that Lavergne was under supervision following his release from prison, not probation.