A private investigator in Houston said he believes he has found a link between the April 2010 disappearance of a 16-year-old Spring, Texas, girl and Brandon Scott Lavergne, the man charged in two killings in the Acadiana area.
Mac Sanford said he began to see a possible connection between Lavergne and the April 26, 2010, disappearance of Alexandria “Ali” Lowitzer while reading about the May 19 disappearance of Michaela “Mickey” Shunick in Lafayette.
Lavergne has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the kidnapping and killing of Shunick and in the July 1999 death of Lisa Pate. He is scheduled to appear in court Friday for a hearing in the case.
Sanford said it was Lavergne’s white truck that first caught his eye.
Lavergne’s 2011 white Chevrolet Silverado was reported stolen in Montgomery County, Texas, on May 31. The truck was found burned in a nearby Texas county that same day, authorities have said.
Sanford would later discover that Lavergne’s sister also lives in Montgomery County.
Montgomery County neighbors Harris County, where Lowitzer lived, and is “right on the edge of where Ali went missing,” Sanford said in a phone interview Thursday.
Lowitzer was last seen getting off a school bus. She sent a text to her mother, JoAnn Lowitzer, saying she planned to walk to her job at a nearby restaurant to pick up her paycheck, Sanford said.
Early on during the search for Lowitzer, Sanford said, one of the tips involved a white domestic truck seen traveling behind the young girl as she walked to the restaurant.
The witness reported seeing the driver of the vehicle attempting to lure Lowitzer into his truck. While under hypnosis, the witness recalled the truck’s license plate contained the letters “XO” and several zeros, Sanford said.
Despite scouring through Texas driving records, Sanford said he was never able to find a white domestic truck in Texas with those letters and numbers in its license plate. He said he never thought to look outside of the state.
But the story about Lavergne’s stolen truck steered him in that direction, he said.
Days after she disappeared, Lafayette Police said a white pickup truck was captured on surveillance video traveling in the same direction as Shunick as she rode her bicycle toward her home during the early morning hours of May 19, which is the last time she was seen alive.
When Lavergne was arrested July 5 in the Shunick case, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said Lavergne owned a white pickup truck that he had reported stolen in Texas just days after police released photographs of the white truck that was seen following Shunick.
But that truck was a 2011 truck. However, when the private investigator pulled Lavergne’s driving records, he said he found that at the time of Lowitzer’s disappearance, Lavergne owned a 2005 white GMC extended cab truck bearing similar plate numbers to those the witness saw on the truck following Lowitzer.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the Lowitzer case, did not return a call seeking comment about Thursday.
Sanford said another link tying Lavergne to the area where Lowitzer disappeared is his sister lives in Montgomery County.
The May 31 report states that Lavergne was at his sister’s Conroe, Texas, home when he reported to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office that his 2011 white Chevrolet Silverado had been stolen.
Lavergne told the deputy, according to the report, that he had last seen the vehicle while it was parked in front of his sister’s home May 30.
The truck was found burned in San Jacinto County, Texas, later on May 31, Lafayette police have said.
The possible links have breathed life into one of the most difficult missing persons cases Sanford said he has worked on during his 16 years as a private investigator.
“At least it’s a lead on Ali,” Sanford said. “Everything links up. The timeline fits. The motive fits. Everything fits. I just hope that it works out and that it turns out to be the right information.”
The girl’s mother, JoAnn Lowitzer, did not return a call seeking comment about the case.
Sanford, who is working the case pro bono for the family, said he has turned over all of his information to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m pretty convinced that we’ve got a strong link here,” Sanford said.
For more information on Lowitzer’s disappearance, visit http://www.alexandrialowitzer.com.