LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — (DMN) – Brandon Scott Lavergne pleaded guilty this morning to murdering Mickey Shunick and Lisa Pate in Louisiana. He is also suspected of being involved in the April 2010 disappearance of a 15-year-old Texas girl. In court allegedly for an evidentiary hearing, Lavergne admitted killing the two women in exchange for life in prison, saving himself from facing the death penalty. The admission came as part of a plea agreement in which Lavergne directed investigators to Shunick’s body last week.
As part of the deal, Lavergne was required to show police where Shunick’s body was buried and physically recreate his actions from May 19. Lavergne signed statements that say he followed Shunick, a 21-year-old University of Louisiana at Lafayette student, down St. Landry Street in his truck. He intentionally hit her bike and persuaded her into his vehicle. She was able to mace him, grab his knife, and stab him several times, giving him what were described as “life-threatening cuts.” He said he grabbed the knife back and stabbed Shunick four times until she fell over.
Lavergne said he assumed Shunick was dead at that point, but when he brought her to a secluded cane field in Acadia Parish she jumped up and regained control of the knife. Shunick stabbed him in the chest. That’s when Lavergne saiys he grabbed a semi-automatic handgun and shot Shunick in the head, killing her instantly. Lavergne was arrested July 5 in connection with Shunick’s May 19 disappearance. A Lafayette grand jury on July 18 indicted him on two counts of first-degree murder, for Shunick and Pate, whose remains were found in September 1999. Lavergne was a suspect in that case but a 2008 grand jury failed to indict him.
Nancy Rowe, Shunick’s mother, said after the hearing that her daughter “went down swinging with everything she could.” “Maybe he’ll wake up screaming every night, seeing her little hand with a knife plunging into him,” Rowe said. Clay Lejeune, one of Lavergne’s defense attorneys, said following the hearing that Lavergne has wanted to come clean about Shunick since before his arraignment. “He showed deep concern for the Shunicks and wanted closure for them,” Lejeune said.
It was Lavergne who approached his attorneys expressing his desire to plea, Lejeune said. Lavergne saw Mickey Shunick’s sister, Charlie, on TV and realized there would be no end to the family’s pain until the case was closed, he said. Lavergne actually wrote a statement to the Shunick family, Lejeune said. Mickey Shunick’s father, Tom, had the statement in his left pants pocket this morning, but had not read it. He said he didn’t want to read it. Shunick’s remains were recovered Aug. 7 behind a small cemetery off La. 10 in Evangeline Parish. Police said at the time that information from a credible source led them to the body, which was identified as Shunick on Aug. 9.
Lavergne was checked out of the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center for nine hours on Aug. 7 by members of the multi-agency task force investigating Shunick’s disappearance. That led to speculation Lavergne had cut a deal with prosecutors in which he directed police to Shunick’s body in exchange for pleading guilty to the murders and not being subject to the death penalty. Lavergne will likely be sentenced to life in the Louisiana State Prison at Angola.
The Texas girl, Alexandria “Ali” Lowitzer, was last seen outside a Burger Barn restaurant in Spring, Texas, just three doors down from her home, said Houston-based investigator Mac Sanford. Lowitzer had recently started working at the restaurant and was walking there to pick up her first paycheck, Sanford said.But Lowitzer never picked up the paycheck, and there has been no trace of her in more than two years. “I’ve been following the (Mickey) Shunick case since the beginning, and when I saw that Brandon Lavergne was arrested and he reported his vehicle stolen in Montgomery County, that’s just a few miles from where Ali went missing,” Sanford said.
A search of Louisiana vehicle records showed that Lavergne’s vehicle, a white 2005 GMC extended-cab truck, had the same numbers in its Louisiana license plate that one of the witnesses saw, Sanford said. “From there, it all started falling into place,” he said. Sanford said he learned that Lavergne sold that truck in March. Police in Harris County, Texas, are now following up on the vehicle, as well as any other records that might place Lavergne in the area at the time of Lowitzer’s disapperance. A spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston would not provide additional details on the case Thursday. This is not the first time Lavergne’s name has been associated with other missing person cases. Several local law enforcement agencies have gone on record saying the the 33-year-old St. Landry Parish man has been looked at as a suspect in missing cases in their jusisdictions.