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Bodies found are those of missing girls, writes Heather Collins

The following is a story from our sister station in Iowa, KWWL.

A nightmare development Wednesday in an already horrific tragedy for two Eastern Iowa families.

At about 12:15 Wednesday afternoon, hunters found two bodies in a wooded area of Bremer County.

Authorities will not yet confirm the bodies as those of missing cousins, Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins. However, Heather Collins, Elizabeth's Mother, in an emotional message on her Facebook page Wednesday night, confirmed the bodies are those of Elizabeth and Lyric.  

Heather Collins thanked area residents for their ongoing prayers of hope and support, writing, "We have been so blessed by the out poor (outpouring) of all the prayers and support tonight with the gut wrenching news that my beautiful daughter and niece's bodies were found by hunters today. This was (not) the outcome we wanted but we know that they are up in Heaven with our Savior and our nightmare of where they are and what is happening to them has been answered. Lord, we know that you have them in your loving arms and we are so blessed or that."

Authorities held a late Wednesday afternoon press conference to announce discovery of the two bodies. Few details were released, but, Black Hawk County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy, Rick Abben, told reporters the bodies had been sent to the State Medical Examiners Office in Ankeny for autopsies and official confirmation of the identities.

An additional inkling of the bad news came when Captain Abben said, "The Cook and Collins families have been notified of the discovery. It's definitely not the outcome we wanted, obviously," Abben said.

Captain Abben would not say where the bodies were discovered, but several sources told KWWL they were found in a wooded area of the 7 Bridges Park in rural Bremer County. The park is located about 22-miles north of Evansdale.

Wednesday night, near the crime scene in rural Bremer County, KWWL talked to two Iowa State Troopers, whose squad cars were on 270th Street in rural Bremer County.

They were parked side by side, stopping any cars driving east on the road to 7 Bridges Park.

KWWL went to the crime scene, but the State Troopers told KWWL they could not say anything about their presence on 270th street, which is only a few hundred yards from the entrance to the park.

A few minutes later, KWWL observed four vehicles approaching the scene. Inside the vehicles were several law enforcement officers, including agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Bremer County Sheriff's Department. Drivers drove up to the Iowa State Trooper squad cars. One of the Troopers moved his cruiser, allowing the authorities to drive down the road and into the park.

Captain Abben said the nearly 5-month old case has been very difficult for the families, the community and law enforcement officers, too. He noted, "Numerous officers from many, many jurisdictions have worked on this case around the clock since the 13th of July, when we were notified of this. This is a difficult thing for us to go through; a difficult thing for the people of the community."

Discovery of the two bodies came on Day 145 of the girls' disappearance. 

Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook, cousins from Evansdale, vanished July 13, while on a bike ride on the recreational trail in Evansdale. Their bicycles were found abandoned near Meyers Lake in Evansdale.

With the criminal investigation ongoing, investigators continue to ask anyone with information, or anyone who thinks they might have seen the girls on July 13 between noon and 6 p.m. in Evansdale, to call the tipline -- 319-232-6682 or 1-800- 346-5507. Tips can also be emailed to OurMissingIowaGirls@dps.state.ia.us.

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The full police statement released Wednesday:

Evansdale Missing Cousins Law Enforcement Update (12-05-12)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Captain Rick Abben, Chief Deputy

Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office

225 East 6th Street

Waterloo, Iowa 50703

319-291-2587

rabben@bhcso.org

www.bhcso.org

Today, at approximately 1245hrs, law enforcement was notified by hunters that they had discovered two deceased bodies in a wooded area.

The Cook and Collins families have been notified of the discovery.

The bodies are being transported to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Ankeny for positive identification.

Lyric and Elizabeth were last seen Friday, July 13, 2012, at approximately 12:15 PM riding their bicycles in Evansdale. Their bicycles and a purse were found at Meyers Lake in Evansdale.

Since that day the investigation has been on going, numerous agencies have been and are still involved in this case. The public has been very helpful in assisting with searches and calling in leads. A substantial reward has been established that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible in this case. Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers continues to accept donations toward their reward at 1-855-300TIPS. Anyone with information is asked to call the TIP Line at 319-232-6682 or e-mail: OURMISSINGIOWAGIRLS@dps.state.ia.us

Law enforcement wants to thank the public and the media for their assistance and support in this case. No further information will be released at this time. A news conference will be held tomorrow at 4:00 PM at the Evansdale City Hall. If pertinent information can be released before that time you will be notified otherwise nothing else will be released at this time.

The family wishes to extend their gratitude to the community for their on-going support and at this time request privacy.

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