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Police arrest sex offender in connection with missing college student

St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Offi

Lavergne was booked on a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the disappearance of Mickey Shunick.

Police in Louisiana have made an arrest in the disappearance of a 22-year-old college student that shocked the surrounding community and prompted an intense search for the missing woman, NBC station KPLC in Lake Charles reported. 

Lafayette Police said 33-year-old Brandon Lavergne, a registered sex offender, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping in the disappearance of Mickey Shunick.

They believe her to be dead, police said.

Bond was set at $250,000 for aggravated kidnapping , but no bond was set for the murder charge, The Advertiser reported.

Lavergne is refusing to cooperate with authorities, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said at a news Conference Friday. 

Shunick went missing after leaving a friend's house on bicycle in the early morning hours of May 19 to go to her parents' home a few miles away. 

The Advocate reported her family became worried when she never showed for her brother's high school graduation that morning, and reported her as a missing person later that day. 

Lafayette Police Department

Mickey Shunick was last seen riding her bike through the city before she went missing.

Louisiana police: Missing student not tied to any other case

Shunick had been an anthropology major at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette at the time of her disappearance. 

Police didn't make a break in the case until a fisherman found her bike submerged in a local bay on May 27. Investigators said the bike had damage that was consistent with being struck by a vehicle. 

Lavergne was listed as owning a white Chevrolet pickup. Craft told reporters he bought another identical looking pickup after Shunick went missing. 

KPLC reported Lavergne's white pickup was found burned in San Jacinto County, Texas.

Craft said investigators have evidence that can put Lavergne in the vicinity where Shunick's bike was found. He did not elaborate on what kind of evidence. 

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"We can place his vehicle in that area at that time," Craft told reporters.

Two weeks prior to his arrest, Lavergne had been working offshore, Craft said. 

Shunick's disappearance led to large volunteer search efforts and donations, the paper reported.

Lavergne was required to register as a sex offender after having been arrested in 2000 for the blindfolding and sexual assault of an 18-year-old girl. He was serving in the Army and stationed at Fort Polk when he committed that crime. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was released in 2008 after serving 85 percent of his sentence.

He served the remainder under supervision until 2010, Pam Laborde, Department of Public Safety and Corrections spokeswoman, told msnbc.com.

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He is classified as a Tier 3-level sex offender and must be registered for life, according to a Louisiana sex offender database. 

If convicted of capital murder, Lavergne could face life in prison or the death penalty. 

KPLC reported he appeared before judge via video conference Friday and was placed in critical care to protect him from other inmates.

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