Monday 10PM Update: Mother, Aunt of Missing Girls: "I just want them back"
EVANSDALE, Iowa - The parents and the uncle and aunt of two missing girls say they’ve “forgiven” whomever took the children Friday.
Police aren’t calling the disappearance of 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins of Evansdale and her 10-year-old cousin Lyric Cook-Morrissey of Waterloo a kidnapping, but Elizabeth’s parents, Drew and Heather Collins, believe they were abducted. The girls have been missing since Friday, last seen by their grandmother at 12:15 p.m. riding bikes near downtown Evansdale near the Collins home.
During an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America at about noon Monday at the Evansdale Community Response Center, which turned into an impromptu press conference, the couple pleaded for their safe return. The police and fire station is ground zero for the search effort.
The Collins thanked the public for all their support. Even though the massive volunteer search — topping 1,100 people — has been temporarily halted, which they approved, the couple again asked for prayers and the public to remain vigilant to help bring the girls home.
“All the group that have come together is overwhelming. ... Just don’t give up,” Heather said.
The couple also had a message for the person or persons who took their child and niece. Even though police aren’t calling it a kidnapping for lack of evidence, family members believe the girls were abducted.
“My husband and I have forgiven them. God has forgiven them,” Heather said. “I don’t care who they are. I don’t have anger inside of me. I just want them back.”
Family and friends hope all the local, regional and national media attention the case has garnered will help. News television trucks and reporters from newspapers from throughout the region has made the Evansdale CRC home the past couple of days.
The families of Elizabeth and Lyric appointed local businessman Craig Ceilley as a spokesman. He said the Collins and Misty Cook-Morrissey, Lyric’s mom and Heather’s sister, welcome it but feel overwhelmed at the same time.
“No one wants national attention. But if it helps them get their kids back, they are all for it,” Ceilley said.
He said Heather has a heart condition, and Elizabeth’s disappearance has added stress she doesn’t need.
The disappearance of the two girls has also gone viral on the Internet. More than 11,800 people have joined a Facebook page entitled Bring Lyric and Elizabeth Home as of 7 p.m. Monday and almost 85,000 people were invited to join. It’s also been a hot topic on Twitter.
Family friend Renee Wrabek of Des Moines said the more people that know about the case, the more people will be looking for the children and for to their whereabouts. However, she said there has been people posting false information on Facebook that can hurt the search effort and family.
Overall, though, she said Internet postings have been good.
“I think that’s wonderful. The more people see these kids’ faces (the better),” Wrabek said.
The girls bikes were found Friday afternoon on the southeast corner of Meyers Lake on the bike trail. Authorities say there’s little evidence to help find them, with one law enforcement officers saying, “it’s if they vanished.”
But the families of the missing youth aren’t giving up hope.
Heather remains confident Elizabeth will be home soon. The mother of four said Elizabeth has a great smile, a good sense of humor like her dad, Drew, loves to go shopping and a adores animals.
Apparently, animals love her right back. Heather said a family cat patiently waits near areas Elizabeth would hang out.
“I know God is near and watching them (Elizabeth and Lyric),” Heather said, tearing up during the news conference. “We love you! Everybody misses you. We’ll have a huge party when you come home.”
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