Dateline | January 29, 2013
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: The search for Mickey Shunick had spread over most of the Gulf Coast . It had involved hundreds of people and thousands of police hours, and now a caller to the tip line claiming that Mickey had been the victim of a drunk driver was a game-changer for detectives.
STEPHEN BAJAT: If you strike someone and you're intoxicated that's foul play. So it -- it looked promising. I only spoke to him one time. He denied any -- any involvement. Ultimately when pressured, he asked for an attorney.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: For a town on edge and still determined to find Mickey , news quickly leaked that police were questioning a person of interest . And when it did, the name Rocky McGee went viral.
CHARLIE SHUNICK: It was like all over the news, all over the social media pages and everything.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: And the next thing you know, everybody was talking about Rocky McGee .
STEPHEN BAJAT: Correct.
KELLY GIBSON: And it spread like -- like wildfire.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: The tip line was suddenly full of callers. Including one claiming to have firsthand knowledge that not only had Rocky killed Mickey , but he also had an accomplice.
STEPHEN BAJAT: This individual came forward and said that Rocky 's girlfriend, she was present when he was drunk and -- and hit her and -- and that they picked up the bike and the body and -- and -- and disposed of her.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: Andy Cormier was the girlfriend accused of helping Rocky . She first learned of the accusations against her and her boyfriend from Rocky 's mother.
ANDY CORMIER: His mom calls me and she tells me that Rocky has been taken by Lafayette police to be questioned in the Mickey Shunick case. She's hysterical. She's crying. She's confused. And she was like, well, they think you did it too.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: Like her significant other, Rocky , Andy Cormier found herself grilled like a redfish.
ANDY CORMIER: It never happened. It -- it never happened.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: For days police worked around-the-clock investigating McGee 's alleged involvement. They processed his white pickup, looking for any DNA that could be traced back to Mickey .
STEPHEN BAJAT: We spent a lot of manpower and -- and a lot of time investigating this.
ANDY CORMIER: I actually thought that we were really going to be blamed for something we didn't do, and I was praying for somebody to come forward and admit what they said was false.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: Then almost as quickly as Rocky McGee surfaced as Mickey's alleged killer, the case around him collapsed when police brought McGee 's first accuser back to be questioned again.
STEPHEN BAJAT: The original tipster admitted that he had fabricated the -- the story.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: It turned out that neither Rocky McGee nor his girlfriend, Andy , had anything to do with Mickey's disappearance. They were instead the victims of what turned out to be a hoax.
And so this tip that you got this was, what, just somebody who had it out for him?
STEPHEN BAJAT: I think what it was, was it turned out to be someone who just wanted attention.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: It ate up a lot of your time?
KELLY GIBSON: Ate up a lot of our time.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: And that turned out to be absolutely nothing.
KELLY GIBSON: Yes, sir.
STEPHEN BAJAT: And that was probably the -- the -- the -- the negative aspect of the social media .
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: Frustrating?
KELLY GIBSON: Very.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: But the saying once burned, twice shy was a luxury detectives couldn't afford. So when two new tips came in about another owner of a white pick-up truck who had been acting suspiciously, Detective Bajat rolled up his sleeves once again.
STEPHEN BAJAT: And both tips they came in a week apart and they were independent of -- of themselves.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: And who were they telling you to look at?
STEPHEN BAJAT: Brandon Scott Lavergne .
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: Brandon Scott Lavergne was a thirty-three-year-old mechanic who worked on oil rigs just offshore.
Tell me what the two tips said.
STEPHEN BAJAT: The first tip that came in was from an acquaintance that has close knowledge of him that said that he was acting suspiciously.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: The tipster also said that on the weekend Mickey went missing, Lavergne traveled to New Orleans and came back with some serious stab wounds on his upper body.
STEPHEN BAJAT: He was telling them that he had been robbed and mugged in New Orleans while he was down there. What they found suspicious was that he had no reason to go to New Orleans that weekend and -- and his story just didn't make sense.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: And it wasn't just what the tipster was saying that interested Detective Bajat , it was also who the tipster was.
STEPHEN BAJAT: The tipster that called in was the future father-in-law of Mister Lavergne .
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: And that second tip only tightened the net around Lavergne . It came from an employee of the Lafayette car dealership who said that soon after Mickey vanished, Lavergne came in looking to buy a white pickup.
STEPHEN BAJAT: The second tip said that Brandon Lavergne had gone in to purchase a vehicle, was acting suspiciously and said that he had owned a white Z71 that was stolen. And that he had to buy another one.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: In what way was he behaving suspiciously?
STEPHEN BAJAT: During the time that he was purchasing the truck, on the news they showed a story about Mickey and he got really suspicious and really nervous, they said. It was visibly nervous.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: Detectives also learned that the soon-to-be married Brandon Lavergne lived in the little town of Church Point , Louisiana ; forty minutes outside Lafayette .
CANDY MCDANIELS: He was funny. I mean he really was.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: That's where Lavergne got to know his friend, Candy McDaniels .
CANDY MCDANIELS: When we first met, I was like, man, he's a great guy. He got a great job and he's good looking. He's perfect guy. I was like I've got to find one of my girlfriends who's single and, you know, see if they would hit it off.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ: But the more detectives delved into Brandon Scott Lavergne 's past, the more they realized just how much wasn't known to those around him.
STEPHEN BAJAT: Even those closest to him didn't know that he had that secret life.