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Bodies identified as missing Iowa girls

Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook

(CNN) — Relatives of 10-year-old Lyric Cook and 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins got news Monday that no family wants.

Authorities identified the bodies found by hunters in a wooded area last week as those of the two young Iowa cousins, missing since July.

Chief Kent Smock of the Evansdale, Iowa, Police Department, confirmed the news and said that the girls’ families had been notified, according to a statement from the Black Hawk County sheriff’s office.

The cause of the death in both cases is pending.

Lyric and Elizabeth were last seen by their grandmother on July 13 when they left for a bike ride. The girls’ bicycles and a purse were found near Meyers Lake hours after they were reported missing.

A search of the 25-acre lake turned up nothing, and authorities eventually said they believed that the cousins had been abducted.

Last week, when the bodies were found but authorities had not yet identified them as belonging to the girls, Elizabeth’s mother, Heather Collins, posted a message on Facebook expressing gratitude for the prayers and outpouring of support amid the “gut-wrenching news.”

“We know that they are up in heaven with our savior,” she wrote. “Lord we know that you have them in your loving arms and we are so blessed.”

Iowa governor Terry Branstad also issued a statement following the positive identification of the bodies, saying, “It was with great sadness that I learned of the deaths of Lyric and Elizabeth. I want to commend the thousands of family members, friends and volunteers who never lost hope that they might be found alive. With this closure now comes great grief. The thoughts and prayers of my administration go out to those affected by this terrible tragedy. I want to assure everyone that our Department of Public Safety will continue working with local law enforcement officers. We want justice served for the taking of these young lives.”

Read more coverage of the disappearance of Lyric and Elizabeth – click here.

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