UPDATE: The mother of one of two missing Iowa cousins must appear in federal court to face allegations she violated the terms of her supervised release in a decade-old methamphetamine case, records show.
U.S. District Judge Linda Reade signed an order last week directing Misty Morrissey to appear in a Cedar Rapids courtroom Wednesday, one day after family members will mark the four-month anniversary of the disappearance of 11-year-old Lyric Cook and 9-year-old Elizabeth Collins.
A summons delivered to Morrissey on Friday says that federal probation officials have filed a “supervised release violation petition” against her. The allegations against Morrissey are shielded from public view, as the documents were filed under seal.
Probation officials and the public defender who represents Morrissey did not return messages Monday and were off because of Veterans Day.
The girls disappeared July 13 while riding bikes in Evansdale near a lake, sparking a massive search by volunteers and local, state and federal investigators. Police believe they were abducted, and officers continue to comb through the area looking for evidence.
Investigators have asked hunters in the fields to look for the girls’ remains, but no sign of them has turned up. The girls’ aunt said Monday she’s clinging to hope that they are alive.
Morrissey has denied having any knowledge of the girls’ disappearance. She has said that she was questioned at length by investigators, and once threatened to stop cooperating after claiming agents were too aggressive and accusatory toward her and her estranged husband. But she reversed course days later and claimed she passed a lie-detector test that cleared her of involvement.
The criminal case against Morrissey dates to 2003, when she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine. Federal prosecutors said that she had “extensive involvement” in the conspiracy, gathering pseudoephedrine pills that were cooked into meth. Her defense attorney argued that she was only a minor participant, and her sentence was ultimately reduced to 4 years in prison and 5 years of supervised release for cooperating with prosecutors.
After she was freed, Reade sent Morrissey back to prison for five months last year and added another year of supervised release, citing unspecified violations.
Morrissey had been free for a few months when the girls disappeared, but has since returned to a halfway house because her health “went downhill fast,” said Tammy Brousseau, her sister. A police report shows Morrissey was taken in August to an emergency room after family members said she was heavily medicated and drank alcohol.
Brousseau said Monday she believed Morrissey was accused of improperly seeking medication for migraine headaches and that she would likely spend a few more months in the halfway house to finish her sentence.
Morrissey has been working five days a week at an Evansdale gas station, and is otherwise confined to the halfway house except to attend church and some other events, such as Tuesday’s vigil to mark the anniversary of the girls’ disappearance, Brousseau said.
Brousseau said that many of the girls’ relatives have been taking medication and seeing doctors since the girls vanished.
“There’s not enough medication that can subdue the pains that we’re going through,” she said. “There was days that I could barely drag myself out of bed.”
Morrissey’s estranged husband, Daniel Morrissey, is facing more serious legal problems, with trials pending on charges of domestic abuse, possession of methamphetamine, manufacturing methamphetamine and other drug charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
His defense attorney, Kevin Schoeberl, said Monday that prospective jurors in Black Hawk County will be surveyed starting this week about their knowledge of Morrissey’s cases. Depending on the results, he said he may renew his request to move the trial to another county.