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FBI dive team will join search for missing Iowa girls

July 18, 2012|By Corina Knoll
  • Cousins Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, left, and Elizabeth Collins, 8, have been missing since July 13.
Cousins Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, left, and Elizabeth Collins, 8, have… (Black Hawk County Police…)

An FBI dive team from Los Angeles plans to depart Wednesday for Iowa to assist in the search for two girls missing since Friday, authorities said.

Elizabeth Collins, 8, and her 10-year-old cousin, Lyric Cook, disappeared after leaving Elizabeth’s home in Evansdale about noon on their bicycles. The bikes were later found about a mile away at Meyers Lake.

With few leads in the case, much attention has been turned toward the five-acre lake. It was dragged over the weekend, and on Monday two FBI scent dogs using the girls’ shoes picked up a trail near there. Authorities have been draining the water for more than two days, but an FBI spokeswoman said the process was slower than expected.

“We honestly thought it would be finished by today, but it won’t be,” spokeswoman Sandy Breault said.

She said the incoming dive team plans to dredge the water, which is dark and cluttered with debris. “When you’re around the edge, it looks clear, but it’s really murky,” she said.

Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Los Angeles division, confirmed that several members of its Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team were expected to leave Wednesday for Iowa.

“We’ve been asked to assist with resources,” she said.

Eimiller said the divers are “essentially a CSI team” and use underwater cameras and other equipment to search for clues and bodies. The FBI began its diving program in New York in the 1980s and now has a handful of teams across the country. Los Angeles formed a team in 2003, and it's assisted law enforcement agencies around the world.

Family members of the missing girls hope that the water will reveal clues to the girls' whereabouts but said they've been told there's little chance that the girls are in the lake.

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

Although family members and many others in the small town of 4,700 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 travelers' cars have been stopped and searched, but neither have led to significant information.

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corina.knoll@latimes.com

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