(LAFAYETTE, La.) — The body of missing Louisiana college student Mickey Shunick was believed to have been found Tuesday buried in a remote wooded area near a small cemetery, police said.
“We believe strongly this will be Mickey Shunick, but we cannot confirm that at this time,” said Cpl. Paul Mouton of the Lafayette Police Department.
Shunick, 19, was a senior at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette when she vanished on May 19. She was last seen about 2 a.m. riding her bike from the home of her friend Brettly Wilson.
Brandon Scott Lavergne, a registered sex offender, was arrested and charged with Shunick’s murder and aggravated kidnapping last month.
Mouton said authorities were directed to the body on a tip, but did not specify where the very detailed tip came from.
“We received credible information as far as where she could be located, off Route 10 in Evangeline Parish,” the corporal said. “It was confirmed there was an area where a body was buried off the roadway and beyond a cemetery.”
Mouton said police followed a private road past a small cemetery of about 30 headstones and into a wooded area to the spot where the body was buried. The burial site is about 45 miles from where Shunick disappeared.
Mouton said the body has been found, but not excavated because the area is being treated as a crime scene.
Shunick’s family released this statement saying it is aware of what the police have found and family members are awaiting positive identification.
“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 until they are ready to respond to the current rumor,” the family’s statement said.
The first clue to solving Shunick’s disappearance came when her bike was found beneath a bridge at Whiskey Bay on the Atchafalaya River. The location of the bike was more than 25 miles from where she was last seen.
Soon after Shunick’s disappearance, police released a surveillance video showing her on a bicycle the night she disappeared as well as footage of a white pickup truck.
Lafayette Chief of Police Jim Craft said the video led detectives to identify the truck as belonging to Lavergne, and to place Lavergne in the area on May 19.
Police said the rear rim of her bicycle was consistent with being struck by a vehicle from behind.
“Based on the info we have, and the vehicle seen in the area, [we believe] he was riding around, looking for someone to victimize,” Craft said at the time of Lavergne’s arrest.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio