Dozens Attend Vigil in Evansdale for Missing Cousins

By Dave Franzman & Karen Bushanam, Reporters

EVANSDALE, Iowa — Hours after authorities announced a devastating find potentially linked to the disappearance of Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook, community members gathered in somber remembrance.

About 80 friends, neighbors and strangers huddle on the banks of Meyers Lake Wednesday evening --- a place synonymous with the girls' disappearance since they vanished while riding bikes in town. The girls' bicycles were found at the lake July 13, the day they went missing.

Many at Wednesday's vigil gazed silently across the dark body of water. Several women tried to light candles inside plastic cups and protected the flame from chilling winds by covering the opening with cold hands.

"We shouldn't be here. These were just innocent children," said Barb Collins of Waterloo. "These girls should have been left alone to start with. They should be home safe in their beds."

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, law enforcement involved in the search for Lyric and Elizabeth announced hunters had discovered two bodies in a wooded area.

Though authorities have yet to positively identify the remains, friends and community members fear the worst. Officials also alerted the cousins' immediate family about the find.

One participant, Holly Timmerman, said, "It wasn't the outcome anyone wanted at all. I'm totally shocked and very heartbroken--you just feel for that family."

A number of people at the lake held candles. Some huddled in small groups on a chilly night to share their thoughts. One woman offered a prayer for the families of the two girls.

Unlike past vigils, there was no mention of hope for a good outcome or faith in a hasty reunion. Rather, those who spoke asked for renewed support for the families of Elizabeth Collins, 9, and Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 11, and justice for the person or people behind their alleged kidnapping.

Lorissa Wilson said this outcome was something many feared as time went by but it still hit hard. "It's hard to believe, I didn't want it to happen to the girls. They're too young to pass away," Wilson said.

Those who personally knew one, or both, of the missing cousins took it especially hard. Mary Carroll found it difficult to put feelings into words. "It's hard, I remember seeing Elizabeth (Collins). You don't expect it for somebody so sweet and innocent."

Many who gathered at the lake said the community now has to confront the reality. And all must continue to support the families and to work to bring those responsible to justice.

Sarah Curl of Waterloo, who has been active in awareness efforts about the missing cousins, expressed gratitude for widespread community support. "Thank you to everyone who's shown up tonight and everyone who's shown support to the families of Lyric and Elizabeth," Curl said. "Now more than every they are really going to need your support."

"Stay strong. Show your support," added family friend Jamie Mangrich. "My opinion is it's a coward's act but we are going to find them."
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