Hours after authorities announced a devastating find potentially linked to the missing cousins case, community members gathered in somber remembrance.
About 80 friends, neighbors and strangers huddled on the banks of Meyers Lake Tuesday night --- a place synonymous with the girls’ disappearance since they vanished while riding bikes in town. The girls' bicycles were found at the lake July 13, the day they went missing.
Many at Wednesday's vigil gazed silently across the dark body of water. Several women tried to light candles inside plastic cups and protected the flame from chilling winds by covering the opening with cold hands.
“We shouldn't be here. These were just innocent children,” said Barb Collins of Waterloo. “These girls should have been left alone to start with. They should be home safe in their beds.”
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, law enforcement involved in the search for Lyric and Elizabeth announced hunters had discovered two bodies in a wooded area.
Though authorities have yet to positively identify the remains, friends and community members fear the worst. Officials also alerted the cousins’ immediate family about the find.
Unlike past vigils, there was no mention of hope for a good outcome or faith in a hasty reunion. Rather, those who spoke asked for renewed support for the families of Elizabeth Collins, 9, and Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 11, and justice for the person or people behind their alleged kidnapping.
Sarah Curl of Waterloo, who has been active in awareness efforts about the missing cousins, expressed gratitude for widespread community support.
“Thank you to everyone who’s shown up tonight and everyone who’s shown support to the families of Lyric and Elizabeth,” Curl said. “Now more than ever, they are really going to need your support.”“Stay strong. Show your support,” added family friend Jamie Mangrich. “My opinion is it’s a coward’s act, but we are going to find them.”