Lafayette Police Reveal Suspect Hid Sex Offender Status + More Details in Shunick Case
LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL) -- Speaking at a news conference Friday afternoon, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft confirmed to reporters that 33-year-old Brandon Scott Lavergne has been arrested and charged with first degree murder and aggravated kidnapping in connection with the disappearance of Mickey Shunick, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette anthropology student who has been missing since May 19.
Though he couldn't make comments on specific areas of the case, Craft said a number of factors led to Lavergne's arrest, including evidence discovered at the Whiskey Bay. Police have searched three times this swampy area beneath an Interstate 10 overpass where Shunick's bike was found by a pair of fishermen.
It was a tip from a concerned citizen, though, that broke the case wide open.
"On June 14, investigators received information...regarding a white Z71 that may be involved in Mickey's disappearance," Craft said. "The vehicle in question was registered to Brandon Lavergne."
That truck was reported stolen in Montgomery County, Tex., and later found in San Jacinto County, Tex., Craft said, evidently burned. This discovery was made just days after police had released photos of the truck as a vehicle of interest.
"Detectives were able to positively identify the truck that traveled directly behind Mickey in the video as belonging to Brandon Lavergne," Craft said, and they have been able to place him in the location where Shunick's bike was found.
The Louisiana State Police Sex Offender's registry lists Lavergne as owning a white 2011 Chevrolet Silverado. According to Craft, Lavergne evidently bought this truck after burning the Z71.
Lavergne was arrested by State Police on Interstate 10 near Interstate 49 Thursday morning following a routine traffic stop. He had a warrant for failing to register as a sex offender, and his driver's license had been altered to hide the fact he was an offender.
Lavergne was taken to Lafayette Police, but when detectives began questioning, he refused to cooperate, Craft said, and asked for an attorney.
"At that time, he was additionally charged with the aggravated kidnapping and murder of Mickey Shunick," Craft said.
Such charges were supported by the available evidence, Craft said, though he would not comment on just what that evidence was. The District Attorney's office also signed off on the arrest for those charges.
There were no clues as to where Shunick's body may be, Craft said, and after repeated attempts from reporters to get him to make a comment on the subject, he refused to speculate as to whether or not police believe Shunick is still alive.
Following Lavergne's arrest, Lafayette Police asked for assistance from the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office to assist in executing a search warrant at his home just outside of Church Point. Detectives are still at the home searching for potential evidence, Craft said.
Lavergne is in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. Because the first degree murder charge is a capital offense, no bond has been set. Lavergne has reportedly been placed in a sort of isolation in order to protect him from the other prisoners.
Click 'Play' below to listen to the entire press conference.
-- Brandon Comeaux and Nathan Pike contributed to this report.