What's Next in Missing Girls Investigation?

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Investigators examine the site where hunters found two bodies in Seven Bridges County Park on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, in Bremer County, Iowa. The bodies were taken Wednesday afternoon to the State Medical Examiner's office in Ankeny, Iowa, for identification. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Aaron Hepker

ANKENY, Iowa — Forensic expert Steve Martin said medical examiners will study every inch of the bodies found this week in rural Bremer County. The team will look for everything from blunt force trauma to how long the bodies were exposed to the elements.

Ever since hunters discovered the bodies that are believed to be Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins Wednesday, Iowans are anxiously waiting to see if the autopsy results reveal any clues to how they died and to a possible killer.

“The medical examiner’s office is primarily going to look maybe if there was some kind of sharp force injury, breaking of bones, possibly with a weapon of some type,” said Martin.

Martin has assisted in more than 50 death investigations while working for the Mount Pleasant Police Department, and now teaches criminal justice at Des Moines Area Community College.

Martin said medical examiners will take their time in studying every detail. “They are also going to look at clothing. They are going to look at jewelry — if there was any jewelry on the body. They are going to try to determine if the body is intact or if there are parts that are missing,” said Martin.

Hunters found the bodies in a wooded area of the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area around 20 miles northeast of Evansdale — the place where cousins vanished on July 13th.

Thursday investigators spent hours putting down small yellow flags as they searched near the park. Martin said a flag represents a spot at the crime scene where law enforcement sees something unusual. “Anything from a cigarette butt to a piece of paper to a package or some type of candy wrapper — just something that looks out of place,” said Martin.

It’s unknown how long the bodies were in the park or what condition they were in, but Martin said finding DNA evidence of the killer will be tough in this wooded swampy area.

“I would say that chance of finding that type of evidence is very small just because it’s so fragile, but I would never say that it’s impossible because we can do some amazing things with forensics these days,” said Martin.

Authorities said it could be a couple of weeks before complete autopsy results are available in the case.

Martin said that in his experience with death investigations, while forensic science is helpful a case is usually cracked by someone coming forward with information.

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