The Post-Signal has attained public records of his prior arrest and conviction for his 1999 arrest for forced oral copulation. The victim’s name is being withheld as a measure of respect to her and her family.
However, the records that were obtained portray that of a violent, deceiving individual who completed the Louisiana Adult Sex Offender Program at the C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center in DeQuincy and was even commended for ‘accomplishments in the program which make him outstanding in comparison.’
In the initial arrest report, filed on April 12, 1999 by the Evangeline Sheriff’s Department, the victim said she was ‘asleep when at approximately 1:30 a.m. when an unknown man jumped on top of her and forced her face into the pillow. The victim stated that ‘she struggled and screamed until she felt something pointed, pressed to her side.’ Her attacker told her ‘not to make a sound or he would hurt her.’
He then blindfolded her with the shirt that she was wearing and placed her on the mattress which he had ripped from her bedframe. She acknowledged never seeing his face but ‘his voice was similar to her cousin’s former boyfriend.’ She knew him only as Brandon and that he was stationed at Fort Polk. After questioning her cousin’s mother police learned that her daughter had been dating a man named Brandon Lavergne from Church Point.
Initially, police didn’t feel that the victim was being truthful with them and was leaving something out of her story and asked her mother to speak with her alone. The victim then told the police that Lavergne had forced her to perform oral sex on him but she was in fear because ‘he told her if she told anyone he would burn down the house with her family inside.’
When Lavergne was brought in for questioning his side of the story was much different. He stated that he was invited over by the girl who performed the sexual act voluntarily.
However, the evidence was too strong (the sign of forced entry through a rear bedroom window and bruises from where the victim was tied up) and the EPSO didn’t believe him. He was eventually sentenced to ten years in prison and was released after serving eight.
During his time in prison, he completed the adult sex offender program during which time he impressed the program’s director so much that he wrote him a glowing letter which was sent to the Louisiana Adult Probation and Parole Districts. Lavergne was referred to as ‘a man who assists other inmates with their workbooks, handouts, videos, etc. He is prompt, reliable and maintains a positive attitude in his work.’
The letter goes on to say that ‘only a small percentage of sex offenders in the Department of Corrections volunteer for the sex offender treatment program and very few complete it while in prison. I think this makes inmate Lavergne’s accomplishments in this program outstanding by comparison.’
How much influence the letter (which was written in January of 2003) had on Lavergne’s release is unknown. However, it does reflect the actions of a man who may be capable of easily fooling people and the violent nature of his 1999 attack speaks volumes.
Presently, Lavergne is not cooperating with investigators who are certain, even without having a body, that he is the person who murdered Shunick. This may be due to the fact that after his first crime he spoke with authorities and it came back to haunt him.
Authorities admit that it is often hard to prosecute a person for murder without a body. However, the other evidence in the case is so overwhelming they still seem quite confident in a conviction.