It was the 13th of July, 2012, when cousins, 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year-old Lyric Cook, set off from Elizabeth’s home in Evansdale, Iowa, on their bicycles. Quite often, Lyric would go to Elizabeth’s home for the day while her mother went to work. That afternoon, they were being cared for by their grandmother, Wilma Cook.
The girls never returned home. Their families would search around the area for approximately on hour before calling police and reporting them missing.
A search party would be assembled as police tried to retrace the girls last known movements. Hundreds of concerned locals would participate in the search and police would quickly discover that last reported sighting of the girls was from around noon, when they were spotted in downtown Evansdale.
Their bicycles were found along the bike trail on the southeast corner of Meyers Lake. Police would send a boat into the waters of the lake, searching for any evidence of the girls.
They would send divers into the lake and then drag it but there was nothing found inside the water which could indicate what happened to Elizabeth and Lyric.1
However, around 20 feet away from where the bicycles had been found, police would find Elizabeth’s purse and cellphone.
A door-to-door search would be conducted while woodland in the vicinity was searched. Deerwood Park and Cedar River was also searched while sniffer dogs were called in to assist. Police also contacted all local registered sex-offenders. However, the search for the girls was unfruitful.
Lyric’s mother, Misty Cook Morrisey, would share her belief that the girls had been abducted. She said that it was completely out of character for them to wander too far away from their homes.2 The community would gather at the Evansdale Community Response Center where Misty said: “I’m so glad these people are here. I do think everything is being done that can be. We’ll continue to pray; we believe and we wait for God to help.”
Elizabeth’s mother, Heather Collins, said that her daughter would never venture far away from home, but she said that she could have been persuaded by her older cousin. She said: “We’ve talked about that before. We’ve told them they’re too young to go far.”
Meyers Lake was around 20 yards away from Interstate 380, which meant that there was easy access to the lake and bike trail. There was a fear within the community that somebody could have abducted the girls and made a quick getaway.3
As the search continued, a $15,000 reward was set up for information that could lead to the safe return of the girls.4 Volunteers would make t-shirts, buttons and posters with the girls’ faces emblazoned on the front with details of their disappearance.
Suspicions were aroused by Lyric’s mother’s husband at the time, Daniel Morrisey. In fact, police believed that he was somehow involved. Tammy Brosseau, the sister of Misty, said: “They have accused him. They told him they had proof that he did it.” However, no such proof ever existed.
Both Misty and Daniel had lengthy criminal records and at the time of the girls’ disappearance, Misty was on federal probation. She had been convicted of nine crimes, including illegal drug use, association with persons involved in criminal activity, excessive alcohol use, and failure to comply with drug testing. Daniel had been convicted of burglary, theft, drug possession, drunk driving, parole and probation violations.5
Many felt as though Misty and Daniel were unfairly treated simply because of their pasts.
Days would turn to weeks and then weeks would turn to months with no new developments in the mysterious disappearance. A vigil was held after the girls had been missing for two months. It was scheduled to be held at the location where the girls’ bicycles were found but this was later changed to a nearby month.6
On the 5th of December, 2012, there was a crushing update in the case when it was announced that two bodies had been found by hunters in Seven Bridges Wildlife Area, around 25 miles away from where Elizabeth and Lyric vanished from.7
Police would announce that the girls were the victims of homicide, but their cause of death would not be released.
In a bid to generate some leads, police set up a webpage that provided updates in the investigation, as well as suspect information that was created by the FBI’s behavioural analysis unit. They theorised that the killer was familiar with Meyers Lake and Angels Park in Evansdale as well as Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in Bremer County.8
They also believed that the killer “blends in with” or could potentially be “part of the” Evansdale, Bremer area. According to the FBI, the killer used “quiet coercion” to gain the trust of the girls and could have been in a stressful situation in July of 2012, potentially related to some kind of legal trouble, marital trouble, employment problems, financial problems or mental health issues.
Moreover, the suspected that the killer may avoid talking about the case but would have been following it in the media. The killer may also have attempted to abduct children or adults in the past and since the murders, they may have changed their appearance.
Over the years, the community would come together to keep Elizabeth and Lyric’s memories alive and honour them. Angels Park Memorial opened in Evansdale in 2018. Since then, the park has evolved as a place for those to come and mourn their loved ones. Each year, there is a Memorial Ride and Drive. Proceedings go to the Angels Park Memorial and Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers.9
The murders of Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook still remain unsolved today. In 2017, two people confessed to the murder but their confession was quickly determined to be false. Nobody has ever been named as a suspect in the case.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Evansdale Police tip line at 319-232-6682 or the Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers at 855-300-8477. There is currently a $50,000 reward for information that could lead to an arrest and an additional $150,000 reward for information that could lead to an arrest and conviction.
- Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, 14 July, 2012 – “Clock Ticks Away as Search Continues”
- St. Paul Pioneer Press, 13 July, 2012 – “Iowa Mom Says She Thinks Daughter, Cousin Abducted”
- Associated Press, 15 July, 2012 – “Hundreds Search for Missing Iowa Cousins, 8 and 10”
- ABC 8 WQAD, 15 July, 2012 – “Two Iowa Girls Still Missing”
- ABC News, 19 July, 2012 – “Cops Suspect Dad in Missing Iowa Girls Case”
- Las Vegas Examiner, 14 September, 2012 – “Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins Remain Missing After Two Months”
- News & Politics Examiner, 9 December, 2012 – “Police Seek Killer of Two Iowa Cousins”
- ABC – 8 WQAD, 22 August, 2014 – “Authorities Compose Possible Profile”
- The Gazette, 12 July, 2019 – “Saturday Ride Marks 7 Years”