As one search has come to a close, another carries on.
On Aug. 7, Lafayette police found the body of missing 22-year-old Michaela “Mickey” Shunick buried near a remote cemetery in Evangeline Parish.
The remains were positively identified Thursday evening. fficials have said that “very credible” information led them to the remains.
Lafayette Parish Correctional Center records show investigators took Brandon Scott Lavergne, the 33-year-old man accused of kidnapping and killing Shunick, from the jail on the morning of Aug. 7 for unspecified reasons. He was returned to the jail that afternoon. Police would not disclose whether Lavergne led them to the body.
Lavergne is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the death of Shunick and in the 1999 killing of Lisa Pate. Lavergne, who had been a person of interest in the Pate case as far back as 2000, was brought before a grand jury in 2008, but the jury declined to take action in the case.
The positive identification in the Shunick case brings to a close the months-long effort that saw a community rise up and reach out to a family struggling with the unthinkable. Those who lent a hand, either through donations or by word-of-mouth, should be proud of their efforts. Shunick’s disappearance shook up the community and inspired action.
More action is needed.
Keiosha “Red” Felix has not been seen since April 30.
The 15-year-old mother of a 1-year-old child disappeared while on a weekend pass at her aunt’s home in Duson, police have said. Felix was in the state’s custody and lived in a state shelter for teenage girls who are pregnant or parenting a child.
Felix’s disappearance did not make the news until late July, when Duson police learned some of Felix’s family members had allegedly lied about having had contact with her.
Since then, four people have been arrested, including two of Felix’s family members.
Felix’s aunt, Patricia Andrus, was arrested on counts of improper supervision of a minor and accessory after the fact to simple rape. Andrus’ daughter, Portia Felix, was arrested on one count of obstruction of justice. Andrus’ boyfriend, Leon Wilkerson Jr., has been arrested on second-degree kidnapping and simple rape charges, and Wilkerson’s brother, Robert Wilkerson, was arrested Aug. 6 on one count of simple kidnapping.
Duson police Chief Frank Andrew has said he believes the young girl is still alive, although he has offered no information or reasons why he believes this.
On Thursday,Andrew reiterated those thoughts.
“I think she’s still alive,” Andrew said. “I think she’s still in the state.”
The chief said his department has received “lots of help” from outside agencies, including local, state and federal agencies.
More help is needed.
Those who want to help can visit the FindKeioshaFelixNow Facebook page. As of Tuesday afternoon,the page had 3,201 likes, far below the 36,086 likes registered on the FindMickeyShunickNow page.
Take a few minutes to look over the page, share it with your friends and help get the word out about the girl’s disappearance.
Anyone with information about Felix’s whereabouts is asked to call the Duson Police Department at (337) 232-9211 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678.
Jason Brown covers police and court news for The Advocate’s Acadiana bureau. He can be reached at email@example.com.