May 27, 2012 — -- Two fishermen found the bicycle of missing Louisiana student Michaela "Mickey" Shunick today, more than a week after the 22-year-old woman went missing after leaving a friend's home on her bike.
Police found the bike early this morning under a bridge at Whiskey Bay on the Atchafalaya River, after being tipped off by the fishermen.
Shunick's family members were brought to the scene and confirmed that the bike is Shunick's black and gold Schwinn. Police are not releasing details on the bike's condition.
Police are planning to perform a grid search of the area where the bike was found on ATVs. Officers are searching the Atchafalaya River by boat, but the river's current was too strong to allow for divers this afternoon, police said.
The discovery comes 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.
The surveillance images appear to corroborate elements of the timeline surrounding Shunick's last known whereabouts because it is believed they show her riding her bicycle home from a friend's house at 1:47 and 1:48 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, as the friend had described.
The images show the bicyclist believed to be Shunick, a senior anthropology major at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, on St. John Street and St. Landry Street in Lafayette, La.
According to a news release from the Lafayette Police Department, "Investigators are seeking information regarding a white newer model four door pickup truck, which was captured on video after Mickey Shunick traveled on both streets."
Investigators earlier had found other surveillance video showing a glimpse of someone riding a bicycle who they believed could be Shunick, but police said that video was too blurry to tell for sure if it was her.
Shunick left friend Brettly Wilson's house on her bike last week after a night out, and hasn't been heard from since.
Before the newest surveillance video, investigators searching for any clues have found no cell phone, purse or virtually any trace of Shunick after she left Wilson's house on her bicycle.
As investigators and the woman's family expanded the search, even sending out a recorded plea for help mentioning a $25,000 reward for information, some people in the area where she vanished have begun to wonder whether Shunick was abducted at all.
"What concerns us is, where is her bicycle?" Det. Stephen Bajat of the Lafayette police department said. "If it is some kind of abduction, most people would snatch and go on and not concern themselves with the bicycle."
Past instances of what were first thought to be abductions have eventually been discovered to be entirely different criminal situations. In 2003, a Texas woman was convicted of hitting a man while intoxicated, and then in a panic left his body in a park to cover the crime. A friend ultimately tipped off police, leading to her arrest.
"The only way to solve this is if someone comes forward with a tip -- and [investigators] need the public," former FBI profiler and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said.
Hundreds of people from the community and beyond have come to aid in the search for Shunick. So many are coming to help that the volunteer headquarters had to be moved to the nearby university to accommodate them all.
Now Equusearch, the well-known search and recovery group, has turned out in force.
"We're hoping for the best," Tim Miller of Equusearch said. "We don't sugarcoat anything. It does not look good, doesn't look good at all, but we believe in miracles."
Wilson, the last person to see her the night she vanished, has turned to the Web with his plea for assistance in the search. He has posted a YouTube clip seeking help via social media.
"This is the power of social media ... To bring back somebody, and end a family's heartbreak … You have the chance to extend the information about this young woman to everyone you know," Wilson says in the clip.
Friends and family held a candle light vigil Tuesday night, and announced a reward for tips leading to her whereabouts. Searches by K-9 units, police and volunteers have turned up no hints of what happened, but her family remains hopeful.
A benefit concert occurred this weekend to increase the $25,000 reward for information on what happened to Shunick.
Shunick is 5-foot-1 and 115 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pastel multi-colored striped shirt, light-wash skinny jeans and gray shoes.