Community Remembers Lyric and Elizabeth at Christmas Tree Vigil

By Emily Christensen, The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

EVANSDALE, Iowa - The search for Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins may be over but their memory will always remain in the hearts of many Evansdale and Northeast Iowa residents.

Dozens gathered in prayer Thursday night just hours after Black Hawk County Sheriff's Capt. Rick Abben announced that law enforcement officials were "confident" the bodies found Wednesday in Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in Bremer County were that of the missing cousins.

"We are kind of turning a page on this," said Sarah Staebell, a family friend who helped organize the vigil. "While this was happening our town was plastered in pink to keep hope alive for the girls. Now we are doing it to keep their memory alive."

"We don't want this to be something that gets stale and less talked about. We don't want to take the posters down. We don't want to feel like this is over and move on," she added. "We want to keep their names in the forefront. If the missing posters do come down they will be replaced with ones in memory of them."

Many who gathered on Randy and Tammy Marvets front lawn brought pink ornaments with them to hang on the two Christmas trees placed outside the couple's home.

Marvets put a small tree in her front yard about a week ago "in hopes that (Elizabeth and Lyric) could come and see it." She added a second tree when the first started to fill up.

"They are our angels. We wanted them to come home so badly for Christmas. I think of them as my own kids," said Marvets, who has no real connection with the family. "By people stopping by I hope that maybe this can help them with their healing process."

Erica Boston of Waterloo brought her two children and a family friend to the vigil. Though they stayed for only a short time, Boston said it was time well spent.

"I had them go get an ornament off our tree to bring out here to show respect for the family," Boston said.

Marvets plans to give the pink ornaments to the families after the trees come down.

During the prayers Staebell, Sara Kipp and Sarah Curl each took a turn reading a Bible passage from "Jesus Calling" a devotional each of the women received from Heather Collins, Elizabeth's mother and Lyric's aunt.

"It's been her goal, I think in life, to bring people closer to God, closer to Jesus," Kipp said.

The women read the passages from July 13, the day the girls went missing; Dec. 5, the day their bodies were found; and Thursday.

Staebell, who wore a necklace bearing the girls' pictures, said many in the community, and even further, have adopted the children as their own over the course of the last five months.

She wanted everyone who felt the pain of Wednesday's finding to have a place to be together.

"These girls are everyone's girls now. They've touched thousands of lives. It's sad that such a tragic event had to be the reason that so many people came together," Staebell said through tears.

"It's a blessing in its own because this community has dropped everything to help in any way they could, whether it was purchasing pink bracelets and pink t-shirts or putting up fliers or spreading awareness to others states. Whatever it may be. Everyone just did what they could," Staebell added.

"This isn't how we wanted them to come home, but they are home and we don't have to worry anymore," she said.
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