Investigators who've expanded their search after combing the area where Michaela "Mickey" Shunick disappeared found surveillance video showing a glimpse of someone riding a bicycle who they believe could be the Louisiana student.
The footage is too blurry to tell whether the person is Shunick, a senior anthropology major at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, police said. The 22-year-old left friend Brettly Wilson's house on her bike last week after a night out, and hasn't been heard from since.
As investigators and the woman's family expand 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."
Investigators searching for any clues have found no cellphone, purse or virtually any trace of Shunick since she left Wilson's house on her bicycle at 2 a.m. Saturday morning.
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 is scheduled for the 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.