UPDATED: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 3:41pm
LAFAYETTE, LA — All it will take is one key piece of evidence to give investigators a clue as to what happened to cause Mickey Shunick to go missing. Although tips continue to pour in to the devoted hotline at the Lafayette Police Department, officials say the case is still lacking evidence.
“Right now we don’t have anything concrete to go on,” Cpl. Paul Mouton, Lafayette Police Department, said about the investigation. “We’re still following up leads that have come in from the tip line, and we’ve expanded our search to include different areas of the parish based on what we feel could have happened.”
What did happen?
All we know for sure is that Shunick was last seen on Saturday, May 19 at 2:00 a.m. The now 22-year-old anthropology major at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette left a friends house and headed home on her bicycle.
No one has seen or heard from her since then.
“The first thing that raised a red flag for us is when she didn’t show up to her brother’s high school graduation on Saturday,” Ashley Says, a close friend of Shunick, explained. “She had been looking forward to that for weeks, so there’s no way she would have missed that.”
Along with her devotion for her family, Shunick is an animal enthusiast. Her home is filled with pets of all sorts from a pig to tarantula. But her greatest love was for her two horses, which are stabled at a nearby barn.
“Earlier in the week one of the two horses was injured. Its nostril was sliced open. She would have wanted to check in on it this weekend,” Says told NBC33 News on Sunday while taking a break from an all day search party that was assembled to seek out clues.
For now, the animals she loves are being cared for by her family.
“Her parents are taking care of her animals and their other children,” Says explained during Monday’s continued search party. “We’re really glad they are taking time to go home because what’s going on here can be overwhelming.”
Says is one of the many who has been involved with the grass-roots search party, which formed on Saturday. The size of that group continues to expand as each hour passes.
“We have a ton of volunteers now,” Says explained. “People are on foot, on motorcycles, bikes, cars – they’re everywhere. We’ve had church groups come out. Restaurants have come and brought hot plate lunches for our volunteers. People have dropped off water and first aid supplies; things like sun block, bug spray. Local printing businesses have been printing up flyers. Lamar, the local billboard company, has agreed to put up a sign on all their electronic billboards throughout the state.”
Various law enforcement agencies throughout the state have also offered additional support to the Lafayette Police Department, which has listed this case as a high priority.
“The FBI called and asked what they could do for us,” Cpl. Mouton, noted. “We have a lot of different agencies calling us, and that’s the way it should be.
“You can imagine that when you start getting so many leads, you have to have people and resources to go out to those locations and follow up on them," he continued. "To have these other agencies assisting us is speeding up the process to find out if they are valid or not.”
The increased assistance is greatly needed for an agency that sees well over 210,000 calls of service annually.
“Our officers are still out there going to calls and there are still open cases that investigators have to work,” Cpl. Mouton said when asked if the attention this case has gained has strained the normal operations. “We are committing as many resources as possible to find this missing woman.”
Although no concrete evidence has surfaced yet, investigators are sure they will eventually gain the key to cracking the mystery.
“We’re going to keep that hotline open so long as we continue to get information coming in,” Cpl. Mouton said about the devoted tip line that was opened on Monday. “We are going to keep someone on that line day and night to take the information. We’re not leaving any possibility out.”
And as law enforcement follows leads and search parties continue to scout, the rest of the community is banding together to keep hope alive that Shunick will be found safe.
“I’ve met more people in the last few days than I’ve ever met in my life,” Says explained. “At times it’s overwhelming, but it’s incredible.”
Tonight, Tuesday, May 22, a candle light vigil will be held at Parc Sans Souci in Lafayette for people to show their support for Shunick, her friends, and the family who wait for her return.
Those citizens with information about the case are encouraged to call (337) 291-8633. Detectives with the Lafayette Police Department will be monitoring the phone for at least the next 24 hours.
A $10,000 reward is being offered by a private citizen for any information that leads to the location on Shunick.