The office was successful in securing an aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder indictment against the 33-year-old sex offender in the case of missing UL Lafayette student Mickey Shunick, but ADA Keith Stutes and a team of law enforcement officials from multiple jurisdictions had another case to make, accusing Lavergne of the unsolved murder of Lafayette resident Lisa Pate.
Pate went missing in the summer of 1999, just two months after Lavergne crawled through the window of a home in Evangeline Parish and sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman.
The 35-year-old Lafayette woman’s remains were discovered in September 1999, four days after Lavergne married Lainey Vasseur of Opelousas, according to this timeline from KATC TV-3. Her body had been hidden underneath boards behind a house in the Church Point area.
About five months later, in February 2000, Lavergne pleaded guilty to oral sexual battery of the 18-year-old. He was released in 2008 after serving eight years for that crime.
|The DA's office secured a surprise indictment against Brandon Scott Lavergne for the 1999 murder of Lisa Pate of Lafayette.|
In a story published today, The Advocate noted that in December 2002, Keith Latiolais of the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office said that investigators had a suspect in Pate’s death. The suspect was not identified, but Latiolais told the paper he was already in jail for an unrelated offense. Latiolais, now chief criminal deputy for Acadia Parish, has not returned repeated phone calls from The Independent over the past week.
Sources close to the Shunick investigation tell The Independent that among the evidence collected from Lavergne’s home in Swords were several women’s IDs and bloodied pictures of Lavergne showing the injuries he sustained May 19, the day Shunick disappeared. Lavergne told a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy that he was attacked in his truck in the New Orleans area when he stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. He was unable to give the detective any information about where the supposed attack took place. The detective noted that Lavergne had multiple stab wounds on his chest, back, hand and neck.
Those sources would not say whether evidence collected from Lavergne’s home helped to build the cases against him in the Shunick and Pate murders. However, they did confirm that law enforcement officials outside of the 15th Judicial District, which covers Lafayette, Acadia and Vermilion parishes, are also looking at any possible connections between Lavergne and other crimes against women. Those investigations stretch into Texas as well.
Shortly after word of Lavergne’s indictment came down Wednesday afternoon, a local woman posted on her Facebook page that Lavergne had tried to get her to move in with him in this year. “He lied to me about his whole past and tried to get me to go on several dates,” she wrote. “Best thing I ever did was decided not to go. I’m sure that there are others.”
After Shunick went missing, Lavergne became engaged to an Acadia Parish woman (not the one who posted the aforementioned comment). The woman's identity is known, but The Independent and other local media have decided not to publish her name.
The DA’s office is seeking the death penalty.