One of the most difficult parts of a journalist’s job is having to report on tragedies, trying to balance the task of keeping the community informed while showing respect and compassion to the victims and their families.
News 10’s Blue Rolfes explains what it was to cover some of the most notorious crimes in Acadiana.
“As a journalist, you’re faced with reporting some of the worst tragedies imaginable. The Grand Theater shootings would lead the list of the most tragic and devastating stories we’ve ever had to report, but there were two others that will always be strong memories.
When law enforcement officers began to realize that a serial killer was targeting women in South Louisiana, it was a story that every media outlet followed closely.
The killer had the uncanny ability of seeming to hide in plain sight in the communities and neighborhoods he targeted. Then, when a young Acadiana woman, Denay Colomb, became his victim, the story became personal for many of us.
The hunt for the suspect went on for months. Then one night, I was sitting next to Governor Mike Foster at a charity dinner in Abbeville when his State Police bodyguards burst into the room and whispered into his ear that the serial killer had finally been caught, and that the people of Louisiana could finally breathe a little easier. And that was how I first heard the name Derrick Todd Lee.
Another tragic story we covered for many weeks was the case of a beautiful young UL Lafayette student who simply seemed to vanish into thin air late one night as she was riding her bicycle home near Lafayette City Hall.
From that night on, Acadiana residents joined in a relentless search for Mickey Shunick. Because of the tireless efforts of her family, especially her sister Charlie, the community organized search parties, put up missing flyers, and made sure that the search for her was a top priority.
I so clearly remember the day that the man who admitted to kidnapping and killing her, lead police to her body in a shallow grave in a remote area of Evangeline Parish. All those weeks of hoping for a miracle came crashing down.
Even those of us who never had the chance to personally know Mickey felt like we lost a friend that day. I’m proud of the way the community has continued to remember her, especially through the Mickey Shunick bike path that runs right through the heart of our city. It’s a fitting testament to her memory.”