Hunters find bodies thought to be missing Iowa girls

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Nearly five months after they vanished, authorities said hunters found bodies believed to be those of two Iowa girls missing since July.

The discovery was made during the noon hour Wednesday, December 5, 2012.

The bodies were still to be examined by the state medical examiner for positive identification. 

The announcement was made at a news conference held just before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, December 5, 2012 at the Evansdale Police Department.  

Black Hawk County Chief Deputy Rick Abben said law enforcement is still interested in any tips from the public concerning the girls’ disappearance. 

Abben thanked volunteers, media and law enforcement agencies who assisted in circulating information and in helping with the search for the girls.

He did not disclose where the bodies were found, and declined to answer questions about whether the location had been previously searched.

“Right now it’s looking that the outcome was not the one that we want,” Abben said.

Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook were last seen by their grandmother July 13, 2012 when the girls went on a bike ride in Evansdale, Iowa. 

When they didn’t return home, the girls were reported missing.  Their bikes and a purse were found near Meyers Lake that same day.

The lake was drained during the search for the girls.  When no bodies were found there, investigators said they believed the girls were abducted.

Lyric and Elizabeth have each had a birthday pass since they disappeared.  Elizabeth turned 9 and Lyric turned 11. 

Shawn Gant, 40, reportedly told the U.S. Attorney’s office he knew where the girls were.   He later denied making the claim.

When they marked four months since the girls’ disappearance, supporters traveled statewide to remind people the girls were still missing.  Elizabeth’s mother, Heather Collins, was in Davenport, Iowa that day to hang flyers on downtown businesses.

An email address and telephone hotline number were set up for tips concerning the missing girls.

Almost immediately after the discovery was announced to media, a Facebook page “Rest in Peace Lyric Cook Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins” was started in remembrance of the girls.  

Another news conference was planned for Thursday, December 6 at 4 p.m.