EVANSDALE, Iowa -- On the same day law enforcement officials voiced
confidence that they had found the bodies of missing Iowa cousins Lyric
Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins, one of the girls' younger sisters
got her ears pierced.
"She wanted her ears pierced just like
Elizabeth's," said Sarah Staebell, a close friend of Elizabeth's
parents, Drew and Heather Collins.
Like the girls' family members,
community residents searched for ways to honor the pair's memory. More
pink ribbons blossomed around town -- pink was the girls' favorite color
-- and residents and visitors hung commemorative ornaments on Christmas
trees in the girls' honor.
Meanwhile, dozens of law enforcement
authorities joined in the grim task of searching for clues to their
deaths. Authorities said they believed the bodies found Wednesday in a
Bremer County park were those of Lyric and Elizabeth based on evidence
at the scene. The park is about 25 miles northeast of Evansdale, where
the girls were last seen alive, riding their bicycles.
results have not yet been made available to authorities and forensic
identifications are not complete, Black Hawk County Sheriff's Department
Capt. Rick Abben said at a news conference Thursday.
"We have no
one else missing in this area, two bodies were found, and the bodies
were smaller in stature," Abben said. He declined to elaborate on other
Hunters alerted authorities Wednesday of their find at the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area.
Abben said the families have not seen the bodies.
the girls' disappearance on July 13, authorities and volunteers combed a
12-square-mile area, including Evansdale and surrounding fields and
Abben said he was not certain whether the wildlife
area in Bremen County had been searched. Abben said law enforcement in
counties surrounding Black Hawk, including Bremer, were asked to search.
But because the park isn't along a major road, it may not have been
covered, he said.
Abben would not provide a timeline for how long the bodies may have
been in the park, the condition in which they were found, or the cause
of death. He also would not provide any information on a possible
suspect or suspects.
He ended the news conference after six minutes.
and Elizabeth's grandmother reported seeing them on their bicycles
about 12:15 p.m. on July 13. Those bikes and Elizabeth's purse and
cellphone were found about four hours later along a recreational trail
at nearby Meyers Lake. Lyric was 10 at the time; Elizabeth was 8.
The investigation is still classified as an abduction, though it could soon change to a double homicide, Abben said.
would say that we're looking that way at this time," Abben said. "We
have two bodies, but we're going to rely on the state medical examiner
to tell us what they think."
An official from the state medical
examiner's office was on the scene Thursday, Abben said, and local,
state and federal police drove in and out of the park through the day.
residents Thursday said they felt both the pain of sorrow and the
comfort of knowing Lyric and Elizabeth are no longer suffering.
"It's just a devastating thing to have happen. This is not the outcome we prayed for," said Linda Wachal.
Now the questions turn to what happened, who was responsible, and whether other children may be at risk.
Morrow used to watch Lyric and Elizabeth ride their bicycles near her
consignment store. Now it's rare to see children outside alone, she
"You want to feel relieved that there's closure, but hearing that news, it was like it happened all over again," she said.
By Emily Schettler and Jens Manuel Krogstad, The Des Moines Register