A community mourns two Evansdale cousins. All related stories can be found here.More >>
A community mourns two Evansdale cousins. All related stories can be found here. More >>
EVANSDALE (KWWL) -
The bodies found by hunters in Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in Bremer County are likely those of missing cousins Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins, police said Thursday.
Capt. Rick Abben with the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office told the media that there has not yet been confirmation of the identification of two bodies found Wednesday afternoon, but that police believed them to be Lyric and Elizabeth.
"Based on preliminary investigation, the bodies found were those of Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook," Abben said during Thursday afternoon's press conference.
He said police believed that because "we have no one else that's missing in this area" and "we have two bodies that were found, and they were smaller in stature."
Abben did confirm that the bodies were found in Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in Bremer County. Several media outlets, including KWWL, had speculated that area was being investigated due to the large number of law enforcement at that park.
"This area was not right on the road itself, so if this area was checked, I'm not certain," Abben said of Seven Bridges.
Authorities still will not yet confirm the bodies as those of the missing cousins from Evansdale, instead deferring to the State Medical Examiner's Office. They said they had informed the Collins and Cook families.
In an emotional message on her Facebook page Wednesday night, Heather Collins, mother of Elizabeth, confirmed the bodies found Wednesday afternoon were those of her daughter and Lyric.
Here is Collins' message, posted late Wednesday night:
"We have been so blessed by the (outpouring) of all the prayers and support tonight with the gut wrenching news that my beautiful daughter and niece's bodies were found by hunters today. This was (not) the outcome we wanted but we know that they are up in Heaven with our Savior and our nightmare of where they are and what is happening to them has been answered. Lord, we know that you have them in your loving arms and we are so blessed (for) that."
Grief counselors are available today at both Kingsley Elementary and Poyner Elementary schools, where the girls attended. The counselors are on hand for any students in the district requesting help.
Discovery of the two bodies came on Day 145 of the girls' disappearance.
Elizabeth Collins, then 8, and Lyric Cook, then 10, cousins from Evansdale, vanished July 13, while on a bike ride on the recreational trail in Evansdale. Their bicycles were found abandoned near Meyers Lake in Evansdale.
With the criminal investigation ongoing, investigators continue to ask anyone with information, or anyone who thinks they might have seen the girls on July 13 between noon and 6 p.m. in Evansdale, to call the tipline -- 319-232-6682 or 1-800- 346-5507. Tips can also be emailed to OurMissingIowaGirls@dps.state.ia.us.
The full statement Thursday from the Evansdale Police Department:
Evansdale Missing Cousins Law Enforcement Update (12-06-12)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Captain Rick Abben
Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office
225 East 6th Street
Waterloo, Iowa 50703
The investigation continues into the discovery of the two bodies that was reported on December 5th, 2012. At this time we can confirm that yesterday at approximately 12:45 p.m., hunters discovered two bodies at the 7-Bridges Conservation area near Readlyn, Iowa in Bremer County. Those bodies have been transported to the Iowa State Medical Examiner's Office in Ankeny for autopsy and positive identification.
At this time, law enforcement is confident, based upon evidence at the scene and our preliminary investigation, that the bodies found yesterday are those of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins. However, the results of the autopsy have not been made available to law enforcement and a positive, forensic identification of the bodies has not been made. Once those results are made available to us, after notifying the family, we will make them known to the media and community.
Due to the large area surrounding where the bodies were discovered, Evidence Teams from the Bremer and Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Iowa State Medical Examiner's Office, and Federal Bureau of Investigation are conducting a thorough search in and around the discovery location. The duration of that search may last several days.
Investigators from local, state and federal agencies are continuing to investigate the disappearance of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins and relationship to this discovery. New leads continue to come into law enforcement and investigators are following up new leads as well as information derived from other sources.
We are asking that anyone with information in this case, particularly if it involves suspicious activity in the 7-bridges Park area to contact the Evansdale Police Department Tip line at 319-232-6682 or Cedar Valley CrimeStoppers at 1-855-300-TIPS. Information can still be emailed to: OurMissingIowaGirls@dps.state.ia.us. A $150,000 reward is still available through law enforcement and a separate reward fund through the Cedar Valley CrimeStoppers is still accepting donations to be paid out for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible.
Authorities held a late Wednesday afternoon press conference to announce the discovery of two bodies.
Few details were released, but, Black Hawk County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Rick Abben told reporters the bodies had been sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Ankeny for autopsies and official confirmation of the identities.
"The Cook and Collins families have been notified of the discovery," Abben said. "It's definitely not the outcome we wanted, obviously."
Captain Abben would not say where the bodies were discovered, but several sources told KWWL they were found in a wooded area of the 7 Bridges Park in rural Bremer County. The park is located about 22 miles north of Evansdale.
On Wednesday night, near the alleged crime scene in rural Bremer County, KWWL talked to two Iowa State Troopers whose squad cars were on 270th Street in rural Bremer County.
They were parked side by side, stopping any cars driving east on the road to 7 Bridges Park.
State troopers told KWWL they could not say anything about their presence on 270th Street, which is only a few hundred yards from the entrance to 7 Bridges Park.
A few minutes later, KWWL observed four vehicles approaching the scene. Inside the vehicles were several law enforcement officers, including agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Bremer County Sheriff's Department.
Drivers drove up to the Iowa State Trooper squad cars. One of the troopers moved his cruiser, allowing the authorities to drive down the road and into the park.
Captain Abben said during the press conference the nearly 5-month-old case has been very difficult for the families, the community and law enforcement officers.
"Numerous officers from many, many jurisdictions have worked on this case around the clock since the 13th of July, when we were notified of this," Abben said. "This is a difficult thing for us to go through; a difficult thing for the people of the community."
Evansdale Missing Cousins Law Enforcement Update (12-05-12)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Captain Rick Abben, Chief Deputy
Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office
225 East 6th Street
Waterloo, Iowa 50703
Today, at approximately 1245hrs, law enforcement was notified by hunters that they had discovered two deceased bodies in a wooded area.
The Cook and Collins families have been notified of the discovery.
The bodies are being transported to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Ankeny for positive identification.
Lyric and Elizabeth were last seen Friday, July 13, 2012, at approximately 12:15 PM riding their bicycles in Evansdale. Their bicycles and a purse were found at Meyers Lake in Evansdale.
Since that day the investigation has been on going, numerous agencies have been and are still involved in this case. The public has been very helpful in assisting with searches and calling in leads. A substantial reward has been established that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible in this case. Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers continues to accept donations toward their reward at 1-855-300TIPS. Anyone with information is asked to call the TIP Line at 319-232-6682 or e-mail: OURMISSINGIOWAGIRLS@dps.state.ia.us
Law enforcement wants to thank the public and the media for their assistance and support in this case. No further information will be released at this time. A news conference will be held tomorrow at 4:00 PM at the Evansdale City Hall. If pertinent information can be released before that time you will be notified otherwise nothing else will be released at this time.
The family wishes to extend their gratitude to the community for their on-going support and at this time request privacy.
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