[UPDATE: Lafayette PD confirms that the white pickup truck Brandon Scott Lavergne allegedly used in the kidnapping and killing of 21-year-old Mickey Shunick was set on fire. Police Chief Jim Craft would not comment on any evidence that points to her death and says Lavergne is not cooperating.
Craft says Lavergne's Chevrolet Silverado Z71, set on fire in San Jacinto County, Texas, had been reported stolen in Montgomery County. The vehicle was burned within days of the PD circulating a picture of it from Mickey's route the night she disappeared, according to Craft, who confirms that the damage to the rear tire of Mickey's bike, located near Whiskey Bay May 26, is consistent with being struck by a vehicle.
Though he was not specific, Craft says police have evidence that places Lavergne and his truck near Whiskey Bay where the bike was found. Craft said the break in the case came June 14 when police got a call to the tip line from "a concerned citizen" with information that Lavergne's vehicle may have been involved. The vehicle Lavergne, an offshore worker, was driving when stopped July 5 by State Police and taken to the Lafayette PD was also a white Chevy Z71, Craft says.]
The registered sex offender accused of kidnapping and killing UL Lafayette student Mickey Shunick, who went missing May 19, allegedly burned the white pickup truck used in commission of the crime, a source with information about the investigation tells The Independent.
Thursday afternoon Lafayette Police arrested 33-year-old Brandon Scott Lavergne for first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping and searched his Swords home in rural St. Landry Parish. The sex offender website confirms Lavergne's ownership of a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado, believed to be the vehicle he set fire to. On the night Schunick disappeared, a similar model Chevrolet Silverado was photographed at St. Landry Street by a City Hall camera that also captured Shunick riding her bike.
It's unknown whether police were able to gather any evidence from the vehicle; the Advocate published a photograph Friday showing detectives carrying large bags away from Lavergne’s home last night. The paper also retrieved from its archives a story about Lavergne's 2000 conviction for oral sexual battery: He was accused of tying, blindfolding and sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman while he was stationed as a soldier at Fort Polk.
A news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday. Police are not expected to divulge how they were first put on Lavergne’s trail or what key evidence they have linking him to the case. There is rampant speculation online that this TigerDroppings.com post, by someone calling himself Adam4LSU, may have played a role.
Adam4LSU also provided a link to the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office's sexual offender database.
View the database's full report on Lavergne here.
The Independent will update this story after today's press conference.