The mystery continues around the disappearance of two northeast Iowa girls. Eight year-old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year-old Lyric Cook-Morrissey are cousins who have been missing since Friday.
At a late morning news conference today, Chief Deputy Rick Abben of the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Department says investigators still have no leads in the case.
“We’re getting a lot of tips coming in, they’re all being investigated, and it takes time to do that. You know these are two local girls, obviously the community is very concerned about it as are all of us, but other than that, I really have nothing else at this time,” Abben said.
The search for the missing girls is now in its fourth day.
The girls were last seen shortly after noon Friday riding their bicycles near Evansdale’s business district.
The bikes were found about three hours later on a nature trial along Meyers Lake, nearly one mile away.
Hundreds of volunteers spent the weekend combing through wooded areas and cornfields in and around the community, but to no avail.
Abben says investigators continue to work around the clock in an effort to find Collins and Cook-Morrissey, despite scaling back the search effort today. “Right now we just don’t fee that putting more civilians out there on the street looking for us is going to be any benefit. However, we are not discounting anything, if we get some information that looks like we need to check further, we can always call those folks back out,” Abben says.
Police continue going door-to-door interview residents and searching their properties in hopes that someone may have information in the case. Investigators are also checking downtown business, looking for leads. Many people are asking why an Amber Alert hasn’t been issued in the case.
Abben says it’s because police don’t have enough evidence. “An Amber Alert was not issued for two reasons, one we do not have a person of interest who has been identified, and secondly we did not have a vehicle description to put out, so an Amber Alert does not apply in this case,” according to Abben. “Now if we get some more information, that someone calls in and says that they had seen them with a person in a vehicle, then we can obviously do that, but right now it doesn’t apply.”
The case is now gaining national attention. Abben says that type of exposure can only help in finding the missing Evansdale girls. “I think it is going to help us, the more that we can get this out,” Abben says. He says the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children put it up on their website right away and other flyers have been given out across the state.
“So the more we get it out, and in fact if something did happen where there was an abduction or something like that — and I have nothing to indicate that that has happened — but the more that we can get it out to the public where someone is possibly gonna see these two girls, it’s just going to be a benefit to us,” Abben says.
A reward has been established for any information leading to the return of the girls. As of Sunday evening, the reward fund had grown to over $15,000.
Donations for the family can be made at First Security Bank, 3600 Lafayette Road, Evansdale, Iowa 50707.
By Elwin Huffman, KOEL, Oelwein/Waterloo