Louisiana authorities believe they have located the body of Michaela "Mickey" Shunick, the missing University of Louisiana student who disappeared while bicycling in May.
According to Cpl. Paul Mouton, a spokesman for the Lafayette Police Department, authorities found the body Tuesday, buried near a small, private cemetery off state Highway 10 in rural Evangeline Parish.
"We are out here processing the scene," Mouton told The Huffington Post. "We still have to positively identify the body [but] we believe strongly it probably is Michaela."
Mouton said investigators received "credible information" from a source this morning that led them to the site. Forensic experts from LSU are on the scene assisting law enforcement in the recovery of the body.
"They are in the process of carefully digging up the grave and recovering any evidence that might be there," the corporal said.
Mouton would not comment on the condition of the body, but said, "We believe it is a homicide."
MICKEY SHUNICK PHOTOS: (Article Continues Below)
Shunick, a 22-year-old senior anthropology major, was last seen alive May 19, when she left a friend's home on Ryan Street in Lafayette. Shunick was cycling to her home on Governor Miro Drive about 4 miles away, when she vanished.
In May, Shunick's mother, Nancy Shunick, told The Huffington Post she was fearful something terrible has happened to her daughter. "I think that someone saw the opportunity and grabbed her," she said. "She does carry pepper spray, but someone might have overpowered her."
A few days after the HuffPost interview with Shunick, fishermen found Mickey Shunick's black, Schwinn Madison, fixed-gear bicycle in a swampy area of the Atchafalaya Basin, about 25 miles from where the college student was last seen.
Investigators later received a tip leading them to Brandon Scott Lavergne, a 33-year-old registered sex offender. On July 5, Lavergne was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping in Shunick's case. On July 18, he was indicted for the first-degree murder of Lisa Ann Pate, a 33-year-old woman who disappeared from Lafayette Parish in July 1999 and was later found dead near Church Point. Lavergne, an offshore worker from rural St. Landry Parish, has pleaded not guilty in both cases.
The Shunick family released a brief statement Tuesday evening via Margaret Bearb, a volunteer who has been helping in search efforts.
"We ask that you please respect the Shunick family by allowing them the privacy they need at this time," the statement reads. "It has been, and still is, a long journey in the search to find Mickey, so we truly feel that they deserve some time alone."
Authorities have not yet said how long it will take to positively identify the body.
Earlier on HuffPost:
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