A Hancock County, Miss., investigator said evidence indicates that a dismembered body that washed up in Mississippi belongs to Jaren Lockhart, of New Orleans.
Speculation arose after the body was found that it was that of Michaela “Mickey” Shunick, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette student who went missing three weeks ago.
However, Shunick’s sister, Charlene “Charlie” Shunick, dismissed that notion when speaking to reporters Friday.
Lockhart, 22, went missing Tuesday.
A female torso with a stab wound was found washed ashore Thursday in Bay St. Louis.
Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove said a fisherman found a lower leg portion early Saturday morning in Pass Christian. Authorities then found an upper leg portion nearby, and a head just to the west in Long Beach.
Hancock County Chief Investigator Glenn Grannan said “circumstantial evidence and reasonable facts” show the body is that of Lockhart. He said a positive confirmation would be made through DNA testing.
Shunick, an avid cyclist and animal lover, was last seen shortly before 2 a.m. May 19 leaving a friend’s house at 100 Ryan St., riding a black Schwinn bicycle, Lafayette police Cpl. Paul Mouton has said.
Investigators continue to seek information on a white, four-door Chevrolet Z-71 pickup that was seen on videotape traveling the same route on St. Landry Street as Shunick, Mouton said.
Police have ruled out two other vehicles caught on videotape in the Shunick case, as well as any connection to the disappearance of an Indiana woman who has been missing since June 2011.
Police have said Shunick’s bicycle was damaged when fishermen found it May 27 at the Whiskey Bay exit off Interstate 10 in the Atchafalaya Basin.
The rim of the rear wheel was bent and the tire was off the rim, Mouton said.
The bike has been sent to the State Police Crime Lab in Baton Rouge for processing.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Lafayette Police Department’s tips line at (337) 291-8633. Police will answer the line during normal business hours, but an answering machine will record any calls made after hours.