By Jeff Reinitz, The Courier
EVANSDALE — Four small pink and white paper lanterns drifted into the sky last night as the friends and family of two missing cousins gathered outside the Countryside Vineyard Church.
The vigil, which was moved from the familiar Meyers Lake location because of weather concerns, marked two months since Lyric Cook, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 9, disappeared while riding their bikes.
Pastor Bill VanWey chose a verse from Psalms that talked of guardian angels. He said he picked the passage because it gives comfort.
“There are things right now that we don’t even see that God is doing, that he’s putting in motion,” VanWey said. “I love the visual aspect of that, he says ‘I will send my angels concerning you, and to guard you and protect you.’ If you think about the girls, he’s there with them. Wherever they are he’s sending his angels to guard them.”
Drew Collins, Elizabeth’s father, renewed calls for witnesses to come forward with information.
“Someone knows something out there, and they just might be scared and holding on to that information. They just need courage to come forward and save the girls,” Collins said.
Earlier in day, Capt. Rick Abben with the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office asked residents to report anything suspicious that may be linked to the missing girls.
For instance, maybe there is someone who had plans to be in the Evansdale area on July 13 — perhaps a camping or business trip — but later said something came up and they weren’t able to go, he said. Maybe someone had an abrupt change of behavior or suddenly needed to get rid of a boat or car.
The Sheriff’s Office also asked residents to take a close look at photos of the girls and consider that their appearance may have been altered. Hair can change, so concentrate on freckles, moles and their smiles, the sheriff’s office advised.
Whoever abducted the girls is known by many people, although their relatives, neighbors and co-workers may not think they are capable of such a thing, the sheriff’s office said.
The girls were seen at about 12:23 p.m. July 13 on Brovan Boulevard in Evansdale, and then spotted between 12:30 and 1 p.m. on Gilbert Drive not far from Meyers Lake. Their bikes and a purse were later found on a trial behind the lake.
Authorities are asking that anyone in the area of Arbutus Avenue and Gilbert Drive that day notify law enforcement.
Collins said police have been keeping in contact with the family, but he knows they can’t tell him everything.
“They have to maintain the integrity of the investigation. They can’t tell us stuff, which is OK. We want to know, but it’s an investigation, so we shouldn’t know everything. It’s kind of hard, but then I know that’s the way it has to be, so I’m OK with it,” Collins said.
The vigil also served as a way to collect signatures for a proposed Cousin’s Law, to change the process of notifying the public in the event of a disappearance.
Craig Arnold, whose wife, Robin, is behind the bill, said they have collected more than 6,300 signatures, not counting online petitions, over the past five weeks.
Tips about the missing girls can be set to OurMissingIowaGirls@dps.state.ia.us or phoned in at (319) 232-6682.