|Spierer and Shunick Cases Share Striking Similarities|
|By CHRISTINA NG (@ChristinaNg27)||May 29, 2012, 10:49 AM|
The disappearances of students Mickey Shunick and Lauren Spierer share a number of eerie similarities. Both women are petite, blonde college students who disappeared almost exactly a year apart after a night out with friends.
But while the parallels between the cases have fueled speculation as to whether they could be connected, authorities said they have no indications at the moment that the comparisons are more than coincidental.
Shunick, 22, disappeared while bicycling home from a friend's house early at around 2 a.m. on May 19 in Lafayette, La. She is a student at the University of Louisiana. Shunick is described as 5 feet 1 inch tall and 115 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes.
Spierer, 21, vanished on June 3, 2011, after a night out with friends in Bloomington, Ind. The petite blonde Indiana University student is 4 feet 11 inches and weighs less than 100 pounds. She also has blonde hair and blue eyes.
A white truck seen in surveillance footage from both cases initially seemed to pull the cases closer.
A white truck was spotted on surveillance tape in the area where Spierer disappeared on the night she was last seen. While footage initially seemed to show the truck circling the block, it was later determined that a time discrepancy between tapes had shown the same footage twice. Authorities did not believe the truck was related to Spierer's disappearance.
In Shunick's case, authorities are searching for three vehicles that were in the area where she was last spotted. A Lafayette woman told ABC News' Lafayette affiliate KATC that she was approached two months ago by the vehicle while riding her bike and the driver, a middle-aged white man, offered her a ride and then asked her to have sex with him for money.
"We were in touch with investigators up there [in Indiana] and we do understand there are some similarities," Cpl. Paul Mouton of the Lafayette Police Department told ABCNews.com today. "Right now, we don't believe there are connections between the two, but we're not ruling anything out in our aspect of the investigation."
The Bloomington Police Department said that, from their perspective, "there is nothing to discuss."
"Any speculation about a 'connection' has been manufactured by the media and not by us," Capt. Joe Qualters of the Bloomington Police Department told ABCNews.com in an email.
Qualters said the Bloomington police simply made an "inquiry" about Shunick's case because it seemed the "appropriate thing to do." Sunday will mark one year since Spierer disappeared. Police have not named any suspects or persons of interest.
The search for Shunick continued today with police following up on "hundreds" of tips and private search group Texas EquuSearch conducting a grid search of the city and surrounding areas. EquuSearch also participated in the search for Spierer.
A break in the Shunick case same Sunday morning when her bicycle was found by two fishermen under a bridge, more than 27 miles from where she left her friend's home.
The discovery came two days after investigators said they found surveillance video showing Shunick on a bicycle the night she disappeared, and they are trying to track down information about a white pickup truck seen on the same video as well as two other cars seen in the area.
"I think a lot of different things could have happened--someone made a mistake, hit her, picked her up or something and then they freaked out and have her somewhere," Shunick's sister Charlene Shunick told KATC. Charlene Shunick said she is "really excited" about the recovery of the bike because it means her sister is "still somewhere out there."
"We didn't get the bad feeling in the pit of our stomachs like, 'Oh my God, this is terrible,'" she said. "It was more like, 'Oh my God, finally we found something of Mickey's.' And we realized that someone definitely took her and this was planned out...whoever has her is thinking about these things."
Shunick's father Tom Shunick told KATC his new life is dedicated to finding his daughter.
"Everyday life ended nine or 10 days ago," he said. "Now all we do is we get up every day and hope to hear a phone call about something...I'm helpless."