A busted rear rim, its tire dislodged, as well as hand grips that were separated from the handle bar is the latest news in the Mickey Shunick case since her black Schwinn bicycle was found submerged in the Atchafalaya Basin Sunday morning by fishermen near the Whiskey Bay exit on Interstate 10.
Lafayette Police Department's Cpl. Paul Mouton says Tuesday afternoon in a called press conference that the bike and other evidence at the site was given priority status by the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab where it will be examined and processed by forensic experts.
"The rear tire on that bike was damaged. It was the only damage that we could see to the bike," says Mouton. "Basically, the rim was bent and the tire dislodged from the rim itself."
Shunick, 22, has been missing since May 19 when she was riding her bike from a friend's house in the Saint Streets to her home in the Ambassador/Congress area.
Mouton says he does not believe the bike was thrown from the bridge, citing the traffic on I-10 as well as the lack of a shoulder there.
"Right now, we don't believe the bike was thrown from the bridge," he says, adding that the forensic investigation should be able to clear up that issue. "But I believe currently that the bike was dumped beneath the bridge and was not thrown from the bridge."
Mouton says the gold hand grips were found near the bicycle "submerged in the water right off the bank into the Atchafalya."
Mouton says the LPD didn’t want to release the new information about the damaged bike because the initial assumption would be that the bike was hit by a vehicle.
"We do not know that for 100 percent that that's where the damage came from," says Mouton. "We don't know if the bike was found and then damaged, or damaged when it was placed out beneath the bridge."
The bike and other evidence the corporal would not elaborate about that was picked up at the scene was sent to the state police lab. Mouton says tips continue to come in to the LPD about the three vehicles - two white pick up trucks and a four-door sedan with a body putty on right rear panel - seen in videos near where Shunick was traveling.
"We have not yet identified the operators or occupants of those vehicles. We'd still like to talk to those individuals," he says. "We stress that they are not suspects in this case, but only persons of interest that we'd like to speak with."
Mouton says the people in those vehicles may have "valuable information" on Shunick as far as where she was heading, if they might have seen her turn off somewhere.
The LPD spokesman says after further discussions about a similar missing person case between Lafayette investigators and those in Bloomington, Ind., that "based on the facts, we do not currently think the two cases are related."