JANE VELEZ-MITCHELLCops Search for Driver of White Pickup
; Verdict Watch in John Edwards TrialAired May 30, 2012 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Now here`s what`s happening. Jane Velez Mitchell coming to you live from New York City.
Police zero in on a suspicious white pickup truck in the disappearance of beautiful young co-ed Mickey Shunick, who cops fear has been abducted. Is the driver of this truck, caught on surveillance video, the key to this case? The missing woman`s father joins me live next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, the urgent search for missing Louisiana college student Mickey Shunick takes an ominous turn as officials tell volunteer searchers just stop looking. Do they know something we don`t? Her dad joins me tonight.
This as cops hunt for a mystery driver caught on surveillance video. Is this unidentified vehicle now the focus of the investigation?
And new claims of flirting, cliques and even matching clothes inside the John Edwards jury. After eight days the whole country is wondering, when will the decision finally come down to the one-time presidential candidate with the stunning fall from grace?
Plus, it`s a 21st Century version of the Hatfields and the McCoys. A Minnesota family says they`re being terrorized by the neighbor from hell. They accuse their neighbor of verbal threats, terrorizing signs, obscene gestures, all in front of the couple`s three young kids. Can you relate? We`re taking your nasty neighbor calls tonight.
And one of America`s most notorious killers back in the news. One of Charlie Manson`s followers caught on tape talking with his lawyer. Now cops will finally hear what they said. Will this tape hold the key to a slew of unsolved murders?
Plus, a new Bill claims to reveal the secret to slim. We`ll tell you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was either a crime of opportunity or someone just made a mistake, and they`re scared and trying to cover their tracks.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Critical breaks in the case of missing co-ed Mickey Shunick.
BRETTLY WILSON, FRIEND OF MICKEY SHUNICK: We just want her back. We want her safe. We want our friend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She left here at this house around 2 in the morning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was Mickey`s family who confirmed the bike is hers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the first time in days the Shunick family and investigators have something to go on.
TOM SHUNICK, FATHER (via phone): I`m as sure as I can be that it`s Mickey. I mean, that`s her. I can just tell by her posture on that bike.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Her bike discovered submerged under water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I believe thoroughly is that the bike was dumped beneath the bridge and was not thrown from the bridge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that I`ll never look at a missing person`s case the same way ever again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rim was dented, with the tire dislodged from the rim itself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think even if someone had a gun to her back, she would run. She would have -- you know, she would have fought.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, new developments in the disappearance of Mickey Shunick. Police now taking direct aim at a white pickup truck that was seen in surveillance video right around the time this beautiful, petite co-ed vanished while biking home in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Police have now accounted for and eliminated the other two vehicles seen in the footage, but they are still on the hunt for the driver of this, this newer model white four-door Chevy Z-71 pickup truck. Is the person at the wheel either Mickey`s kidnapper or a key witness?
She vanished 11 days ago, biking from a friend`s house at about 2 in the morning. The family believes this surveillance footage that you`ve been seeing shows Mickey on her bicycle.
The last image of her just before she vanished. What happened to her? Her frantic family wants to find out. They are doing everything they can.
A key break came just this past Saturday when fishermen discovered Mickey`s bike under a bridge. It was sticking up out of the river about 25 miles from where she was last seen. It was a bridge connected to Interstate 10, the back wheel of her bike, badly damaged. Does her bicycle hold the key, as well, to what happened to her?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe currently that the bike was dumped beneath the bridge and was not thrown from the bridge. A lot of things come into play, obviously, the amount of traffic. The I-10 is very heavily traveled and there is no shoulder on that particular bridge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I-10 connects Lafayette with several large port cities to the east. Could a predator have used the massive artery as a getaway, taking Mickey with him?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With an exit off of I-10 under the bridge. That`s how probably the bridge got thrown into the water and this person or persons who had basically, what seems like to me, kidnapped Mickey got back on I-10 and headed -- the bridge is eastbound.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Give me a call. What are your theories, your thoughts? 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. We want to help this family. The devastated Shunick family.
Straight out to Mickey`s father, Tom Shunick. Mr. Shunick, again, our hearts go out to you. We want to be helpful keeping your daughter`s face out there. I know that this is crushing for her family and friends. Popular, popular girl, doing very well in school, with her life ahead of her, didn`t have anything to drink that night, according to her friends, was drinking water and was simply biking home, which should be a right of a citizen in this country. A female should be able to get on her bike and this is a travesty, and I know all of our viewers want to help you figure out what has happened.
Mr. Shunick, have the police told you anything? For example, we understand they have told the volunteer searchers back off, don`t continue searching. Do you know why they said that, sir?
SHUNICK (via phone): No, they didn`t say that. They just took a day off. The Texas EquuSearch, you know, people have all been out all day long in this 94-, 95-degree heat. And they just took a day off. They`ll start back up tomorrow, tomorrow morning.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, good.
SHUNICK: That was just a foot search.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, we were under the impression -- maybe it was the wording, that essentially, the volunteers...
SHUNICK: I heard that a lot, but that`s what it was. Everybody -- a lot of people were under that impression, but they, in effect -- I mean, they just took a day off. And it was a foot search and not the search.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`ll tell you what. Texas EquuSearch does an incredible job, and you`re fortunate to have them on your team.
SHUNICK: They`re amazing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: They really are. We`re a friend of Tim Miller. He`s an amazing guy, and he had his own tragedy involving his own child. So it`s a cause he holds dear.
SHUNICK: I know.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s the thing. Whoever dumped Mickey`s bike under that bridge, did they get on Interstate 10 and head East? That is one of the crucial questions.
Now, there are nearly 100 traffic cameras along I-10 in Lafayette, but get this. This is a horror. They`re live cameras for traffic. They don`t record. They`re just to observe the traffic patterns. All right?
Now, Lafayette is connected by I-10 to several small and mid-sized cities to the east. Baton Rouge and then all the way to Jacksonville, Florida.
I want to go out to Bill Warner, private investigator. If this major highway runs the width of the entire southern U.S. and was used as a getaway for a possible kidnapper, how do police proceed?
Because I can tell you that we called Baton Rouge P.D., the first big city to the east. And they said they were aware of this case, but they would not give us any information of what they might have done to try to find Mickey, referring us back to Lafayette P.D. -- Bill.
BILL WARNER, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Yes. I`m here. Yes.
WARNER: I think they really need to expand this -- this search for Mickey into Florida, because from the point where that -- that bike was found under the bridge, it`s only, like under four hours and you`re in Pensacola, Florida. I mean, it`s just a quick shot one way. You`re through four different states. You need to expand this search beyond Louisiana.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, why do you say Florida? I mean, we`ve got all these other cities between Lafayette and Jacksonville, Florida. Do you think that this individual, if there is this individual in this white pickup truck driving with Mickey, that he would go all the way to Florida? And if so, why?
WARNER: Well, I`m aware that there`s a lot of construction work along the Gulf Coast. And a lot of people that live in Florida work over in Louisiana, Mississippi. And they work during the week, and they come back on the weekends.
Mickey was basically, I feel, kidnapped on a Saturday night, a weekend. They need -- they need to look into this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Police want to talk to the driver of a newer model white Chevy Z-71 pickup truck seen on this surveillance video.
Now, Holly Hughes, former prosecutor, how do cops go about finding this truck? Obviously, it`s great that they have a white Chevy pickup truck. Can they go through registration and get the thousands and try to whittle it down?
HOLLY HUGHES, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, they can, but that`s not going to be near as effective as what we are doing right now, Jane. Putting it out there in the media. They`re also going to visit all the local businesses, see if that truck pulled in and check credit-card receipts for the same time stamp that`s on the video.
They`ll try and narrow it down that way, because quite frankly, they just don`t have the manpower and resources to look through 32,000 registered white pickups. They`re depending on the public. They`re depending on people who were in the area.
And they will check all the surveillance cameras from local businesses to see if there`s a different angle. Can they get a partial license plate? If they get a partial license plate, that will narrow it down.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And remember, there was a woman who said in the same area somebody had the same exact -- she described a white, middle-aged man in the same exact kind of pickup truck, trying to pick her up, using very sexual language, offering to pay her for sex.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, my gosh, Joe Gomez, senior investigative reporter, KTRH News Radio, that to me dovetails: this pickup truck and then this experience this girl in this area had not so long ago.
JOE GOMEZ, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, KTRH: Yes, I mean, it`s hard not to, you know, connect the dots here, Jane. It sounds to me like there might be a sexual predator lurking out there in Lafayette, and the guy reportedly even admitted to this woman that he likes to drive around looking for girls and that she was, you know, even on a bicycle. Maybe this guy now finally snapped.
You know, it`s also interesting that Bloomington police in Indiana also had a case where a young college co-ed went missing after coming home from a night on the town, as well. So they`re investigating to see if those two cases might be connected, Jane.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like maybe a drunk driver or someone who was speeding hit her or cut her off or saw her and was able to get her off her bike somehow or, you know? It seemed like a good idea at the time, and when they sobered up or whatever was, the next day they freaked out and didn`t know what to do.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Charlie Shunick, the sister of missing sister Mickey Shunick is hoping that somehow this was just a terrible accident and that accounts for Mickey`s bike being damaged.
Now, obviously, authorities are going over that bike with a fine- toothed comb. They`re taking whatever they can. If there`s paint on it from another vehicle, that would indicate that it was a car accident. There could be fingerprints; there could be DNA. We don`t have that information back yet, unfortunately.
Straight out to the phone lines. Cynthia, North Carolina, your question or thought?
CALLER: Yes, Jane. Hi, I love you. I just wanted to let you know that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
CALLER: Also, why did that -- her friend let her leave at 2 o`clock in the morning all by herself, being a girl and everything? Why didn`t she just sleep there?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, first I want to go to Dr. Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist, because Brettly, her very dear friend, is hysterical, sobbing and crying. He feels -- I feel bad for him because he is just obviously wracked over the fact that he was the last person to see her.
But apparently Mickey enjoys riding. She actually has, I believe, a tattoo of a little bicycle. I mean, she`s an avid cyclist.
ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: I read that, that she had a tattoo on her ankle or somewhere.
Listen, you know, when you`re friends with somebody you don`t think they`re going to be in danger, especially if they`re not drinking, if they tend to live a healthy lifestyle. I imagine Mickey probably went home a lot via her bicycle late at night, and nothing ever happened. So we can`t blame the friend. The friend just assumed that she was -- she was safe. There was no reason to assume anything other than that, and of course, that`s not the case.
I think what we need to blame are, you know, the people who are out committing these crimes.
LUDWIG: But to blame a friend, you know, it`s just unfortunate timing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll tell you what upsets me is the fact that there are all these cameras. We have tons of cameras along the I-10, the very interstate that authorities fear she may have been taken on.
And remember, it goes through Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge has the distinction of being one of the top ten cities in the U.S. when it comes to human trafficking. Teenage girls are often the victim of human trafficking. And that would be, in a sense, a good scenario, in the sense that she would still be alive. That`s what we want to do is find Mickey alive.
But what absolutely infuriates me, Bill Warner, private investigator, is that we talked to transportation officials. There are cameras all the way up and down the I-10, but none of them, to our understanding, record.
So even if this had been caught, this vehicle had been seen, it wouldn`t have been recorded, and they say it`s because there are constitutional issues. I don`t really get it, because in New York City there`s cameras all over the place for terrorism reasons. I think, you know, killers, domestic criminals -- let`s put it that way -- are domestic terrorists.
WARNER: Well, I agree. But -- yes, I agree, but that happens all the time. I travel I-10 myself a lot. What you`ll find at all the rest areas are heavily cameraed. So they need to look at these rest areas from the Lafayette area all the way out to Pensacola, and you just don`t know. You might pick up something. There`s all kind of stuff.
You need to expand this. You need to look at -- you need to look at what happened in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where the -- the woman who disappeared, the soldier. She was at a bar right along 275. I mean, come on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Our hearts go out to the Shunick family. We are going to stay on this story. We will not forget about your daughter. We want to find her.
Mr. Shunick, thank you for joining us, and we are going to stay on top of this story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Edwards!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know the judge has admonished the jurors twice now to only discuss the case when they`re alone together in the jury room.
JOHN EDWARDS, ON TRIAL FOR CAMPAIGN FINANCE CHARGES: Thank you for asking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have all recently worn the same clothes.
MARCIA CLARK, FORMER PROSECUTOR: There have been reports that they have been discussing the case in separate little factions outside the courtroom.
EDWARDS: God bless you. Thank you for being here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)