Police report getting lots of tips; search widens
LAFAYETTE — Tips related to missing college student Michaela “Mickey” Shunick have streamed in each hour of the day since word spread of her Saturday disappearance, but so far none have resulted in a solid lead, a police spokesman said Wednesday.
“We’re receiving several per hour … and it really hasn’t slowed down,” Lafayette Police Cpl. Paul Mouton said of the number of tips police have received.
Shunick, 22, was last seen just before 2 a.m. Saturday morning when she left a friend’s home at 100 Ryan Street near downtown. She hopped on her black Schwinn bicycle with gold handlebars but never made it to her family’s home about four miles away on Governor Miro Street off of Ambassador Caffery. She was reported missing late Saturday evening.
At least 40 Lafayette police officers have been assigned to the search, Mouton said. Additional officers with the St. Mary, St. Martin and Lafayette parish sheriffs’ offices, the U.S. marshals task force, FBI and Louisiana State Police are also assisting with the search, and search dogs have been deployed, he said.
“We’re coordinating it, but it’s been a joint effort by all agencies involved to find one shred of evidence to point this investigation in a positive direction to locate Mickey,” Mouton said.
On Wednesday, Texas Equusearch, a mounted search and recovery team, arrived in Lafayette to join the search effort.
Shunick turned 22 on Monday. She attends the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she is studying anthropology.
In the past few days, hundreds of volunteers have canvassed streets in neighborhoods across central Lafayette.
New faces continue to stream into the makeshift search headquarters at 100 Ryan Street, said Charlene “Charlie” Shunick, Mickey’s sister.
“God bless ’em,” Charlie Shunick said. “We’ve had hundreds of people helping us, working around the clock.”
The search for her sister moved into the fifth day Wednesday, a fact that surprised Charlie Shunick as the words left her mouth.
“It’s been like one long day,” she said. “Everyone’s just doing what they can do to help, and they’re keeping our spirits up.”
On Tuesday night, hundreds attended a candlelight vigil in Parc Sans Souci, and on Wednesday night, bicyclists and walkers were encouraged to meet for a “solidarity ride” on the route Shunick likely took as she rode her bike home Saturday morning.
On Wednesday afternoon, Lyndi Lowe and her husband, Colby, who recently returned from working offshore, joined the search.
The couple said they did not know Shunick or her family but they wanted to support them during the search.
“If it was my family, I would hope they would get the same response,” Lyndi Lowe said. “It’s crazy that someone could just vanish. It just can’t happen.”
Teams of volunteers walked assigned streets, searching for clues or anything out of the ordinary. Charlie Shunick said anything from a piece of gold rubber, skid marks on the road or even abandoned houses could hold clues in finding her sister.
“We have no leads or news on her at all,” Charlie Shunick said. “The police are still waiting on that one thing.”
Meanwhile, her sister’s disappearance is gaining national media attention with the story set to be featured on CNN Headline News’ “Nancy Grace” show Thursday, Charlie Shunick said.
There are other ways the public can help too, she said.
“Stop spreading rumors,” she said. “We’ve been really open about everything and will post on Facebook if there’s any news. It’s not helping.”
She also urged people to contact the police tip line with possible information, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
Those tips should be made to the tip line and not reported to the family or the headquarters at Ryan Street, she said.
Another big help to the family has been the public’s sharing of Mickey Shunick’s photo and information about her disappearance on Facebook, Charlie Shunick said.
“Get the word out,” she said. “She could be anywhere.”