Public Safety

Saturday ride marks 7 years since Evansdale cousins' disappearance

Investigation into deaths of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Colins remains active

Elizabeth Collins (left) and Lyric Cook
Elizabeth Collins (left) and Lyric Cook

Saturday marks seven years since two Evansdale cousins, 10-year-old Lyric Cook and 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins, disappeared.

Their bodies were found nearly five months later, and the case remains unsolved.

“We are still very much involved in the investigation,” said Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of field operations for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

“There are still several agencies that are actively working this case — the Evansdale Police Department, the Black Hawk County and Bremer County sheriff’s offices, and the FBI — and we get together regularly to review information and evidence and evaluate new information,” he said. “It’s a group effort, and the investigation still is very much on the front burner.”

As technologies and forensic science evolve, investigators go back to the evidence to see if there are new approaches they can use to glean more information, Mortvedt said. They also watch for similar cases elsewhere across the country, Mortvedt said.

Investigators remain hopeful they will find the person or persons responsible for the children’s deaths, he said.

The girls went missing July 13, 2012. They were seen riding their bicycles at about noon at Meyers Lake, a popular fishing and recreation area in Evansdale, a northeastern Iowa community of about 4,500 residents southeast of Waterloo.

Their bicycles and Elizabeth’s purse were found at about 4 p.m. on a trail near the southeast corner of the lake.

For nearly five months following the disappearance, law enforcement agencies and community residents mounted an enormous search for the girls.

Volunteers made T-shirts, buttons and posters emblazoned with the girls’ photos, and local law enforcement officers and federal authorities searched the area and ran down leads.

Search efforts included sending divers into Meyers Lake, including a specialized FBI diving team from California and using a motorized pump to drain the 15- to 20-foot-deep lake.

The FBI also brought in trained bloodhounds with the bureau’s Human Scent Evidence Team from the agency’s headquarters in Quantico, Va. Agents with an FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team were brought in.

Authorities said some evidence had been seized in the investigation and sent to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation crime lab in Des Moines, but would not elaborate. Officials said there also is security camera evidence of the girls at about 12:15 p.m. July 13 in an alley on Lafayette Road.

Their bodies were found Dec. 5 by a group of hunters at the Seven Bridges Wildlife Park in Bremer County, about 20 miles north of Evansdale.

In the years that followed, the Evansdale community has found ways to honor the girls’ memories.

Last September, Angels Park Memorial opened in Evansdale in their memory. Since then, the park has evolved into a space for all who are mourning loved ones.

The seventh-annual Memorial Ride and Drive for the Girls is set for Saturday. The entry fee is $20. Half the proceeds will go to Angels Park Memorial and the remainder to Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Lofty’s, 3480 LaFayette Rd., Evansdale. There will be a short program, and the ride will start at 11 a.m. and last about four hours, stopping at Getaway Bar in La Porte City, Chelle’s in Dysart, Spanky’s in Gladbrook and Federal Pub in Hudson, before heading back to Lofty’s.

Evansdale police urge anyone with information about the case to call (319) 232-6682 or the Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers at (855) 300-8477.

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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