Ind. police report similar case there
Authorities called off a search Monday in an area under Interstate 10 near Whiskey Bay where the bicycle of missing college student Michaela “Mickey” Shunick was found Sunday, a Lafayette police spokesman said.
Police began searching the area near I-10 exit 127 sometime early Sunday morning after a fisherman reported finding the bicycle, which police have confirmed belonged to Shunick, Cpl. Paul Mouton said.
Authorities examined the area from the air and the ground, using a State Police helicopter and sonar-equipped boats from the Iberville, St. Martin and Iberia parish sheriff’s offices, Mouton said.
Police did find some items, which they did not identify, near where the bicycle was found, and they are still trying to determine whom they belong to or whether they’re trash, Mouton said.
“We found a lot of stuff, a lot of items that were recovered,” Mouton said.
The search was called off after no more evidence was found in the area, Mouton said.
“We not only searched just along that river bank, but we also searched in and around the river area that was easily accessible by a vehicle,” Mouton said.
Shunick, 22, an avid cyclist and University of Louisiana at Lafayette student, was last seen shortly before 2 a.m. May 19 leaving a friend’s house at 100 Ryan St., riding a black Schwinn bicycle.
Mouton also confirmed that police from Bloomington, Ind., have contacted Lafayette police about the Shunick case. The Bloomington police believed the Shunick case resembled the search for Lauren Spierer, an Indiana University student who disappeared in Bloomington in June.
Spierer, then 20, disappeared around 4:30 a.m. on June 3 after a night out with friends in downtown Bloomington, according to the Bloomington Herald-Times.
Both Shunick and Spierer are blonde and petite, and Bloomington police were investigating a white pickup truck seen on surveillance video in an area where Spierer was last seen, the Herald-Times reported.
Lafayette police had also asked the public for help in identifying a white, four-door pickup truck with a cargo bed cover and tinted windows seen in surveillance video believed to show Shunick headed home on her bicycle.
Bloomington police initially were interested in the white truck in the Spierer case because it appeared to pass by twice in an area where Spierer was last seen, the Herald-Times reported.
However, police discovered a time discrepancy in the cameras that recorded the footage and, after talking to the truck’s owner, discovered the truck only passed the area once, the Herald-Times reported.
Now, Bloomington police no longer consider the white truck to be involved in Spierer’s disappearance, the Herald-Times reported.
However, Mouton said Monday that Bloomington police “compared notes” with Lafayette police about the two cases.
Mouton said he could not confirm whether the two cases are related.
Lafayette police also said Saturday they were looking for information on a second pickup truck and a four-door car shown in surveillance tape that apparently showed Shunick on the night she disappeared.
The second truck is a white, four-door Chevrolet Z-71 truck that was seen on the video tape traveling in the same direction on St. Landry Street as Shunick, Mouton said.
The third vehicle is a 1980s or 1990s four-door car with body work on the rear right quarter panel, Mouton said. Police believe that car turned onto St. Landry Street and headed in the same direction as Shunick, Mouton said.
Detectives would like to locate the vehicles and speak with the occupants for more information.
Authorities plan to examine the bicycle for more evidence and will continue to follow leads called in to the Lafayette Police Department’s tip line, Mouton said Monday.
“It’s slowed down, but we’re still getting information and calls,” Mouton said.
Shunick’s family could not be reached for comment Monday.
Mouton has said search teams have covered a “good portion of the city” since search efforts began May 19, including waterways, coulees, abandoned buildings and the main routes Shunick normally traveled on her way to her parents’ house on Governor Miro Street.
Investigators know Shunick arrived at Artmosphere, a bar and restaurant on Johnston Street, at 10:13 p.m. Friday and left at 12:44 a.m.
At 1:24 a.m., Shunick and her friend Brettly Wilson then traveled to the Taco Bell at Johnston and St. Mary Boulevard.
At 1:31 a.m., Shunick received a phone call from a friend, and there have been no phone calls from her phone since that time. Investigators have contacted and questioned the person who last called her as well as Wilson.
Anyone with information about the case or the vehicles is asked to call the Lafayette Police Department’s tips line at (337) 291-8633 or Crime Stoppers at (337) 232-TIPS.