Lafayette, LA (KPLC) - Authorities said late Tuesday that they "strongly believe" that the body found off La. 10 at its intersection with La. 13 in Evangeline Parish is that of Mickey Shunick, but more testing is needed to positively confirm that.
The Lafayette Police Department sent out a news release to media after 10 p.m. Tuesday.
"Although investigators strongly believe that the body is that of Mickey Shunick, it may take three days for the identification process to be completed. The investigation remains ongoing," the release states.
On Tuesday morning, authorities received "credible information as to the location of Mickey Shunick's body" and were directed to the remote site, according to the release.
Lafayette authorities worked with the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office, Lafayette Metro crime scene technicians and LSU forensic experts to process the scene.
Authorities say that at approximately 8:30 p.m., the body was removed from the scene by the Lafayette Parish Coroner's Office and transported back to Lafayette Parish.
The Lafayette Advertiser reported late Tuesday afternoon that Lafayette Chief of Police Jim Craft made comments during a Lafayette City-Parish Council meeting about the discovery.
"We believe these remains are Mickey Shunick's, but we are not 100 percent," Craft told the newspaper.
A statement from the Shunick family was released to WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge and other media outlets on Tuesday evening following the media reports:
"We appreciate all the efforts of the law enforcement agencies, searchers and volunteers. We know that the media has reported that Mickey Shunick's body was found in Evangeline Parish, however, as of right now, and until an official press release is made by the proper officials, we cannot report either way, that a body found was that of Mickey.
Also, we ask that you please respect the Shunick family by allowing them the privacy they need at this time. 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.
Margaret L. Bearb, Vol. Headquarters Coordinator"
Conflicting reports and rumors swirled throughout Tuesday. Moments after a Lafayette television station posted a story about the discovery of a body believed to be of Shunick, other media outlets across the state shared the breaking news.
KLFY-TV posted on its Facebook site Tuesday afternoon that multiple sources confirmed they found Shunick's body in Evangeline Parish. Almost simultaneously, other media outlets posted conflicting stories. KATC-TV reported a body was found in Evangeline Parish, but it was a man who died of natural causes.
Minutes later, a statement was released by Lafayette Police spokesman Cpl. Paul Mouton.
"The Lafayette Police Department is currently conducting a search of property outside of Lafayette Parish in connection with the Mickey Shunick investigation. The location and findings at that site are not being released at this time," Mouton said.
Shunick was last seen alive in the early hours of May 19 while on a bicycle. She was leaving a friend's home and was seen on security video in multiple locations in Lafayette.
On July 5, Brandon Scott Lavergne, 33, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping related to the case. Authorities said Lavergne was connected to the disappearance after a white pickup truck seen in the security video was connected to him.
Lavergne pleaded not guilty to all charges, including counts related to the 1999 death of another woman, Lisa Pate.