Monday 12:30PM Update: Family of Missing Cousins Vow 'We Will Find These Girls'
By Alex Perez, ABC News
EVANSDALE, Iowa - The family of missing cousins Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook are determined to find the girls, even as they struggle to make it through the "fourth day nightmare," with no clue as to what may have happened.
Collins, 8, and Cook, 10, were last seen around midday Friday, riding their bicycles in downtown Evansdale, Iowa. Police found their bicycles on Friday and a bag they were carrying on a trail near Meyers Lake. Crews used boats to search the lake, and volunteers looked in the woods Saturday and Sunday, but didn't find any sign of the girls.
Police have entered the fourth day of searching, but still have no idea what happened. About 1,000 volunteers combed a 12-square mile area over the weekend in the town of about 5,000 people.
"We just ask that they continue to keep looking, not to give up," Collins' mother Heather Collins told ABC News today. "We will find these girls. These girls will be found."
Heather Collins said the family has strict rules with Elizabeth about how far she is allowed to go and how often she has to check in.
"If she goes more than one block, she tells us and she calls us when she gets there and she calls us when she comes home," Collins said. "This is not like her normal thing."
Heather Collins reported the girls missing about three hours after they left to ride their bikes.
"I just had a gut feeling my daughter would not leave that long," Heather Collins said. "She knows she'd be in trouble...That's not like her."
Collins and her husband Drew Collins described their 8-year-old daughter, saying she loves shopping trips with her mom, the color pink and her stuffed animals.
"She has a great smile. She has his sense of humor," Heather Collins said referring to her husband. "She loves to snuggle."
"She's very girly, but also rugged," Elizabeth's dad Drew Collins said. "[She] likes sports -- hockey and baseball and playing basketball."
Heather Collins said that Elizabeth's cat that sleeps with her every night has been waiting on Elizabeth's bed ever since she disappeared.
"The cat's depressed and everybody else is too," she said. Collins said that her three other children, who are 4, 6, 12, miss their sister and have been "very upset."
Heather Collins had a message for whoever took her daughter and niece.
"I want to say to them that my husband and I have forgiven them," she said. "God has forgiven them already. So we have forgiven them and we just want our children back safe and sound. That's all we want. We don't even want to know who the person is."
When asked how they keep their minds from imagining the worst, Drew Collins replied, "You don't. It's impossible. I've run over everything in my mind a thousand times and it's impossible. You just try to hold onto whatever kind of hope you have."
Heather Collins is staying focused on being reunited with her girls.
"We love you. We want you back home," she said, choking up. "We miss you guys. Everybody misses you. We're all going to have a huge party when you get back home."
Police are working with federal authorities on what to do next.
"Every hour, you know, it makes it that much worse. The first 24 hours of course are very critical. We've obviously surpassed that now by quite a bit," said Capt. Rick Abben, a chief deputy with the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office.
No Amber alert was issued in the case, because it does not meet the requirements, Abben said.
"Because we have no person that was seen and we have no vehicle that was described, so we can't issue an Amber alert by their guidelines," Abben said.
The girls' grandmother, Wylma Cook, says she fears they were abducted.
"Whoever has them, just turn them in, let them loose anywhere so they can call me," Cook said. "Lyric knows my cell phone, she knows my house phone."
Tammy Brousseau, Cook's aunt, says she knew what to do if a stranger approached her.
"I taught her myself if they got a hold of your arm, drop to the ground, kick, bite, scream, do everything you can," said Brousseau.
More than 1,000 volunteers have fanned out around the area to look for the girls. The response was so overwhelming that when hundreds of volunteers showed up Sunday, search organizers said it took several hours to bus people to assigned areas. Neighbors in this small, tight-knit community say it's the least they could do to help.
"I have two little girls at home. Just want to bring them home safe to their mommy and daddy," said volunteer Kim Einfelt. "Can't lose hope. Can't."
ABC News' Olivia Katrandjian and ABC News Radio contributed to this report.
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