Waiting, prayer continue in Evansdale

Search for missing girls yielding few new leads, even as efforts go nationwide

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A bright new bouquet of flowers is carefully tied to the wooden fence that surrounds the Meyers Lake parking lot.

The multicolored buds are a stark contrast to the now-wilted pair of roses tied to the same fence post just a few feet away.

But both mean the same thing.

The community, the state and even the nation are still waiting.

Still praying.

Still holding out hope that Elizabeth Collins, 8, and Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, will return home safely.

Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Capt. Rick Abben said Tuesday that investigators continue to follow every lead, but they still have no solid evidence that can point them to the girls.

Abben, during his final daily press briefing, said he had “no idea” where the cousins might be. The girls were last seen riding their bikes about 12:15 p.m. in downtown Evansdale on July 13.

“This is a nationwide search going on now,” Abben said. “We have no indication that they are in Evansdale. We have no indication that they are not in Evansdale. I don’t know where they are at. No one knows where they are. If we knew where they were at, they would be back. We would go after them and get them.”

Abben said they are seeking help from law enforcement in other states to help track down tips.

The tipline has also been flooded with people claiming to be psychics or mediums. Abben said between 80 and 90 have called in with their visions, and officials are checking into each of those leads as well. He added that no two have had the same “vision.”

“We are taking seriously everything. I mean, there is no reason for us not to,” he said.

Officials last week said they had evidence the girls were still alive. Abben said Tuesday they have received no additional evidence leading them to that conclusion.

“We hope so, but we are now in our 11th day,” he said. “As you know, the longer it goes on the statistics show that probabilities go down, but we want to remain upbeat and hopeful. And we have nothing to indicate anything other than that.”

Law enforcement officials are still seeking people who may have seen the girls on or after July 13.

“Anyone with any information is asked to call us, no matter how trivial you think that information may be,” he said. They are also seeking anyone with home or business videos who may have seen the girls.

The tipline at (319) 232-6682 is being answered 24 hours a day.

“We are not scaling back on the investigation,” Abben said. He added that all law enforcement agencies “are continuing to vigorously pursue this case.”

“We’ve still got two missing girls and we want them back,” he said.

Time may have passed since the girls were last seen riding their bikes on July 13, but Tina Borman, a server at Red’s Diner on Lafayette, said no one has stopped talking about it.

“They talk about this all the time,” she said adding there are also lots of speculation and rumors. “But we all have very high hopes that they are still alive.”

Rita Cummings, the diner’s owner, said people come in asking for copies of the missing posters, looking for new information or just to share the latest rumor or theory on the girls’ disappearance.

“Him and me were just talking about it,” she said, pointing to a table where a man sat eating his meal. “You hear all these rumors. You just don’t know what to believe.”

Rosemary Dressel took a stack of the missing posters with her to Wisconsin recently. She asked to put them up in every gas station they visited along the way.

“Larry (her husband) was so concerned he kept calling home to see if there was anything new,” she said.

Borman said some community members are also among those questioning the way Misty and Dan Morrissey, Lyric’s parents, have responded to the alleged abduction. But, no matter what the parents say or do, everyone just wants the girls home, the women said.

Despite a cool breeze and threats of record high temperatures later in the day, Meyers Lake, where people gathered during the initial days of the search, was empty Tuesday morning, save for a few local and national media vehicles.

But the remnants of multiple prayer vigils, both individual and group, remain on site. Children have left half-finished coloring book pages with notes asking the cousins missing from Evansdale to finish them upon their return. Balloons that once whipped in the wind now hang forlornly from the park’s welcome sign. Melted wax and half-burned candles line the retaining wall separating the park from the lake.

“It’s real quiet around here,” Borman said. “More than usual. I live in a trailer park and usually see tons of kids out. I don’t see them as much now.”

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