Sunday 12:45PM Update: Search for Missing Evansdale Girls Enters Third Day

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

EVANSDALE, Iowa - Search parties headed out at about 8 a.m. today to help find two girls that went missing in Evansdale Friday afternoon.

Now in the third day of the search, family and authorities aren't giving out hope that Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, of Waterloo and her 8-year-old cousin Elizabeth Collins of Evansdale will be found.

More than 200 volunteers and emergency workers gathered at the Evansdale Community Response Center this morning.

About 400 people looked for the girls Saturday, and authorities expect even more today.

The girls were last seen at about 12:15 p.m. Friday near Lafayette Road riding bikes. Their bicycles were discovered on the southeast corner of Meyers Lake, along with a purse and cell phone belonging to Elizabeth, about 4 hours later.

During a 9 a.m. press conference, Capt. Rick Abben of the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Department said the whereabouts of the girls is still a mystery.

Despite almost three days of searching the lake, nearby wooded areas, homes and corn fields, no credible clues have been found.

"For a lack of a better word, it's just like they vanished. There's just nothing," Abben said.

Authorities say the main focus of the search is still Meyers Lake and the surrounding area since that's where the bikes were found. Abben said 40 percent of the lake has been dragged as of this morning.

Divers assisted in the search. Evansdale, Waterloo and La Porte City fire boats will continue dragging the lake until finished, which will probably be sometime Monday, Abben said.

The ground search was expanded today. Searchers will cover the same ground as before, but more of the city and neighboring communities and rural subdivisions, like the RayMar addition, will be scoured. That includes all wooded areas, other small lakes, farm fields and the Cedar River.

Abben said it's still considered a missing-persons case, but authorities haven't ruled out the children were abducted as their parents believe.

Law enforcement continues to interview the family, friends of the family and other children. They are contacting registered sex offenders in the area as to their whereabouts on Friday.

"We're grasping at straws too to take every avenue we can," Abben said.

Shortly after 8 a.m., six search parties — ranging from 10 to 60 people — left in school busses. Many people on all-terrain-vehicles are also out.

Heather and Drew Collins, Elizabeth's parents, said they'll never give up hope their daughter will be found despite the lack of clues. They hope the rest of the Cedar Valley doesn't as well.

"Just don't give up or lose faith. Just keep looking for them," Heather said. "It's not if we will find them, there's no ifs."

"In all honesty, (hope) is all we have left," Drew added. "God will bring them home."

The couple, along with Heather's sister, Misty Cook-Morrissey, Lyric's mother, remain blown away by the support of the community and law enforcement.

Misty is confident that the search will be successful.

"I still believe good things will happen today," she said.

Authorities are asking anyone that was on the bike trail Friday to call the Tip Line, (319) 232-6682. It's manned 24 hours.

A few tips have been received but none have panned out, Abben said.

"Anybody who has seen anything about these two girls we want to be notified," Abben said. "Law enforcement is working this 24/7."

An anonymous person has offered a $5,000 reward that leads to information that results in Lyric and Elizabeth being located.
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