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Clue for families of missing Iowa girls: Dogs find scent at lake

July 17, 2012|By Corina Knoll
  • Misty and Dan Morrissey speak to the media near Meyers Lake, where their daughter Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, and cousin Elizabeth Collins, 8, disappeared in Evansdale, Iowa.
Misty and Dan Morrissey speak to the media near Meyers Lake, where their… (Charlie Neibergall / Associated…)

Misty Morrissey describes her 10-year-old daughter, Lyric Cook, as vibrant and mature. “She’s outgoing and social. She likes cheerleading, but she’s also sports-oriented. She loves to wrestle -- like UFC-type wrestling,” the Iowa woman said Tuesday afternoon with a small laugh.

Such laughs are rare. Lyric and her 8-year-old cousin, Elizabeth Collins, have been missing since Friday.

The two girls left Elizabeth’s home in Evansdale about noon on their bicycles; they'd been told to stay in the neighborhood. When they didn’t return within a couple of hours, family members went to the police. The bikes, along with Elizabeth’s purse, were later found near Meyers Lake, about a mile from the house.

Since then, the tiny town of Evansdale, population 4,700, has been consumed with searching for the girls. Hundreds of volunteers have set out on foot across the city, businesses have circulated fliers, donors have come up with $15,500 to offer as a reward for their safe return, and authorities have dragged the lake and gone door to door questioning residents. Yet so far there are no strong leads.

“You try not to get frustrated or lose hope, but it does feel a little bit hopeless,” Morrissey said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “When is something going to turn up?”

The 34-year-old, who lives in nearby Waterloo, said she and her husband have put in long hours with the search crews, preferring to do something active rather than sit at home and think the worst.

Morrissey, who works in the kitchen of a Casey’s General Store, said she was hopeful about the two FBI scent dogs who were taken to the area Monday. The dogs used the girls’ shoes to pick up a trail.

But what the dogs found was “nothing that we can comment on,” Sandy Breault, a spokeswoman for the FBI, told the Los Angeles Times.

Authorities on Monday began to drain the lake, a process that could take until Thursday, according to Rick Abben, chief deputy of the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office.

Renee Wrabek, a friend of the family, said investigators have told them there’s little possibility of the girls being in the water.

The family has grown frustrated with the lack of progress or substantial clues, she said.

Although many in the town believe that the girls were abducted, authorities are unable to issue an Amber Alert without proof of a kidnapping. Registered sex offenders in the area have been interviewed, and roadblocks have stopped travelers -- whose cars were then searched -- but neither have led to significant information.

“They’ve got two bikes and a purse and nobody has seen anybody,” Wrabek, 38, said. “You want to find them alive but you also want any possible lead, whatever it may be. Now it’s day by day -- you have to get up in the morning and have hope every day. That’s the hardest thing.”

Elizabeth’s parents, Heather and Drew Collins, attended a service in their honor Monday night at their church in Cedar Falls. Hundreds of people showed up, with some reading Scriptures or offering words of support.

When Heather Collins addressed the crowd, she read Bible verse 1 John 5:14, which she said has given her strength of late.

That passage, according to Biblegateway.com, reads: "And this is the confidence that we have in Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us."

Fliers with the girls’ faces and a hotline number were passed out with the letters DSBUTCH. “Don’t stop believing until they come home.”

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corina.knoll@latimes.com

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