Authorities connected the discovery of two bodies by hunters today to the heartbreaking case of cousins from Evansdale who have been missing since July.
A surprise news conference was held in Evansdale on Wednesday about the cousins, Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook-Morrissey. Capt. Rick Abben of the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office stopped short of stating the bodies were those of the missing girls but said their parents have been notified and that the families have requested privacy.
He did not disclose the location where the bodies were found other than to describe it as a wooded area.
The bodies were discovered Wednesday at about 12:45 p.m. They were being taken to the Office of the State Medical Examiner in Ankeny for positive identification.
Authorities will hold another news conference Thursday at 4 p.m.
went missing on July 13 near Meyers Lake in what authorities have described as an abduction.
Their grandmother last saw the girls riding their bikes shortly after noon, and a firefighter found their bikes along a recreational trail nearby the same day.
Hundreds of volunteers have searched an area surrounding the lake where the girls were last seen. The lake was drained and members of both families were questioned.
Since then, both families have reached out to the public, asking that the girls be returned.
Last month, to mark the four-month anniversary of the girls’ disappearance, parents Drew and Heather Collins, and Dan Morrissey and Misty Cook-Morrissey submitted a letter to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier intended for anyone who might have abducted the girls.
"Taking the girls from us has caused much pain, pain for them, pain for us and our families," the parents wrote. "We want you to know that we are praying for you to do the right thing. By releasing the girls, everyone wins. Even you. The person who took them."
Hunters had been asked to keep an eye out in Iowa's fields and woods this fall for signs of the missing girls.
An anonymous donor told authorities last week they would set aside for anyone who provides information leading to discovery of the girls. $50,000 was already in the fund. Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers continues to accept donations toward the reward at 1-855-300TIPS.
Authorities said the reward is still available for anyone who provides information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. Anyone with any information should call the public tip-line at (319) 232-6682 or email OurMissingIowaGirls@dps.state.ia.us. They can also contact these tip lines: Crime Stoppers Hotline at (855) 300-8477, FBI tipline at (402) 493-8688, DCI tipline at (515) 725-6010.
For more information on the search for the missing girls, read previous coverage.
Iowa Patch's coverage of the state's missing children:
Innocence Abducted: Noreen Gosch Blinded by Ugly World of Child Sex Trade (Part 2 of a Series)
Johnny Gosch’s Mom ‘a Pioneer’ in Protecting Children (Part 3 of a Series)
Innocence Abducted: A Mother's Fear