Jul 08, 2012 07:27 AM EDT
Sex Offender Charged With First-Degree Murder in Missing Louisiana College Student Case
Police arrested a registered sex offender in connection with the disappearance of a 21-year-old student of University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Brandon Scott Lavergne was arrested at his home in Lafayette on Thursday night from where the college student Mickey Shunick went missing since May 19. Shunick's friends, supporters and family members had organized a search party to locate Shunick for the past two months but could not trace her.
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Lavergne has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping.
On the fateful night when she disappeared, surveillance video showed Shunick heading home after leaving her friends' place riding her bike on St. Landry Street in Lafayette just before 2 a.m. A white truck was also said to be seen in the same area at the same time, a report in KSLA said.
Police believe that the truck, a white Chevrolet pickup, was similar to the one that Lavergne owned. On May 31, police found a burned truck near Houston which was reported stolen in Montgomery County, Texas.
They discovered that the truck was registered in Lavergne's name. It was identical to the one shown on the surveillance video.
Shunick's bicycle was found eight days after her disappearance at the exit of Whisky Bay area. The bicycle was reportedly damaged and looked as if it was hit by another vehicle. Craft said that their evidence shows that Lavergne was also in the same area when the bike was found. He mentioned that they have evidence that makes them believe that Shunick is dead. But he didn't give the details on the evidence.
The state police arrested Lavergne during a traffic stop in Lafayette on July 5. "Lavergne is believed to be responsible for the disappearance of Mickey Shunick," the Associated Press quoted Craft as saying. He added that more investigation work is needed.
Lavergne was registered as a sex offender after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old girl in 2000. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison but was released in 2008. Lavergne is currently believed to be placed in close care to prevent attacks from other inmates.