Investigators look to more cold cases for connections to accused Louisiana murderer

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 3:32pm

Brandon Lavergne, 33, has been indicted for two homicide cases, but investigators say that may not be the end to this story.

“We’re looking into all of our unresolved cases and we’re looking into other areas as well,” Cpt. Kip Judice, Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, explained. “Anytime you have a person who you believe to be responsible for multiple deaths, you’re going to review all cold cases. So what we’ve done is established a course of time to determine any missing person cases or homicides that have similarities.”

On Wednesday, July 18, a grand jury in Lafayette indicted Lavergne for the kidnapping and murder of Mickey Shunick. In a surprise twist, he was also indicted for the murder of Lisa Pate, 35, who was reported missing back in June 1999. Unlike Shunick, Pate’s body was recovered three months after she went missing under large boards in a field near Church Point.

“We are confident about Lavergne’s connection to these two cases,” Cpt. Judice, noted. “At this point in time, I am unaware of any other cases that we have such strong evidence.”

Judice noted that Lafayette Parish has roughly two dozen unresolved missing person cases that date back to roughly 1997.

“As much as we’re looking at cases he could have possibly been involved with, we’re also looking to clear him from cases as well,” Cpt. Judice, explained.

Any case that happened between 2000-2008 could not be connected to Lavergne because he was incarcerated for oral sexual battery. He was convicted for typing up, blindfolding and sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman from Evangeline Parish back in 1999.

“Everyone initially thought that he would be connected to the Jeff Davis murders, but he was incarcerated at the time, so there’s no possible way he could have been connected to those cases,” Cpt. Judice, said. “Also, he worked off shore, so we need to account for that time and find those cases that fit that timeline.”

For now, investigators are not ruling out any possible matches. Lavergne’s past conviction as well as the two homicides for which he’s been indicted, have striking difference.

“I think these are two distinct cases,” Cpt. Judice, said. “I don’t know what his motive is in the two cases we know about.

“We are pretty confident we know how he accomplished Mickey’s homicide,” he continued. “The information is limited in the Pate case. Yes, we have a clue, but we don’t expect an offender to commit the same crime the same way. For example, Pate wasn’t riding a bike, but Mickey was. The girl in Evangeline Parish was an associate of his, so he knew her, but we don’t think that he knew Mickey or Pate. We have a lot to look at.”

Examining those cold cases brings an added level of difficulty when you factor in the surviving loved ones.

“We want to make sure we have a connection before we contact the loved ones of someone who may have been murdered because we don’t want to give them false hope,” Cpt. Judice, said. “The last thing we would want is to make them feel as though they might get some closure and then not be able to give that to them.”

What’s certain is that the strong attention brought by the Mickey Shunick case is what lead investigators to examine Lavergne as a possible suspect in the first place.

“The one good thing that came out of this is that the media did a good job of keeping this guy looking over his should and keeping him at bay,” Cpt. Judice concluded. “It’s not all law enforcement, it’s a community effort, especially in this case. When this case goes to trial, I think there will be many things that come to light that the community will be proud of because they had a part in uncovering that information. The community really stepped up to the plate.”

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