Mickey Shunick's Bike Was Found In A Swamp, Kicking Off A Chilling Investigation

In May 2012, Louisiana college student Michaela "Mickey" Shunick went missing one night while riding her bike. The ensuing investigation into her disappearance would take months and make newspaper headlines around the country. Today, while Shunick's family continues to honor her memory, the Mickey Shunick murder case is also a chilling reminder of the unknown dangers in seemingly safe locations. 

Read on for all the details about the disappearance of Mickey Shunick, the police investigation, and how the culprit was ultimately caught.

  • On May 19, 2012, Mickey Shunick Vanished While Riding Her Bike In Her Hometown Of Lafayette, LA

    On May 19, 2012, Mickey Shunick Vanished While Riding Her Bike In Her Hometown Of Lafayette, LA
    Video: YouTube

    Michaela "Mickey" Shunick was born on May 21, 1990. In the spring of 2012, she was a senior at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she was studying anthropology. The night she went missing, she was out enjoying music at a local bar with friends. She left the group around 1:45 am to head home so that she could get up for her younger brother's graduation the following morning.

    Shunick rode her bike to a friend's house from the bar before departing, bound for her family's home. Police studied surveillance footage and discovered that a white pickup truck was following Shunick. Identifying the truck and its driver became top priority.

  • According To Shunick's Father, Her Abductor Got A Two-Day Head Start

    Shunick was last seen at 1:45 am on the morning of Saturday, May 19, 2012. When Shunick didn't arrive for her brother's graduation the following day, her family knew something was wrong. They contacted police by 5 pm that day. 

    According to Shunick's father Tom, police were unable to check video surveillance footage until Monday because investigators couldn't contact local businesses that owned the camera over the weekend. "If somebody has abducted her and taken her on the Interstate or something, they got a two-day head start," Tom Shunick said.

  • Shunick Was Known For Carrying Mace With Her

    Mickey Shunick was described as an avid cyclist, and she often rode her bike around campus and around town, even at night. She was also known to always carry a can of mace on her during her bike rides for protection.

    Three days after she went missing, her parents told reporters that it was completely out of character for her to be absent for days at a time. At that point, the FBI and Louisiana State Police had joined the investigation. Because the area where Shunick could have gone missing was so large, her friends and family organized a volunteer search party to look for her.

  • Fishermen Found Shunick's Bike In A Swampy Area About 27 Miles From Where She Was Last Seen

    Eight days after Shunick went missing, a pair of fishermen discovered her bike in Whiskey Bay, a muddy basin on the Atchafalaya River. This was about 27 miles away from where Shunick was last seen. Police later theorized the bike had been deliberately dumped. "We strongly believe that the person, or perpetrator, drove down to the edge of the water and dumped the bike into the water for it not to be found," said Cpl. Paul Mouton of the Lafayette PD. 

    The bike had sustained serious damage to the rear tire, including a bent rim. Police suspected that someone had struck the bike with a vehicle to cause Shunick to crash.

  • Investigators Found A Burned-Out Truck In San Jacinto County, TX, That Matched Surveillance Footage

    Police determined that the white pickup truck following Shunick in the surveillance video was a Chevrolet Z-71. On June 14, 2012, Lafayette police got a tip that a white Chevy Z-71 had been abandoned and burned in San Jacinto County, TX. It previously had been reported stolen. 

    The truck belonged to an offshore oilfield worker and registered sex offender named Brandon Scott Lavergne.

  • Surveillance Footage Ultimately Led Police To Brandon Scott Lavergne, A Registered Sex Offender

    Around three weeks after the white pickup truck was discovered, police picked up Brandon Scott Lavergne during a traffic stop and arrested him on a charge related to his sex offender registration. Police believed that Lavergne had been in the Lafayette area the night Shunick was murdered. They had enough evidence to charge him with first-degree kidnapping and murder. Lavergne refused to cooperate with authorities and was represented by public defenders.

    Lavergne had been arrested in 2000 for aggravated sexual battery. He served almost eight years in prison and was then on probation until November 2010. He was registered as a Tier 3 sex offender - this is the most serious classification and requires the offender to be registered for life.