FBI dogs assisting in the search for two Iowa cousins picked up the girls' scents near an Iowa lake where their bicycles had been found; now divers may join the search, FBI spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman, Sandy Breault said the reaction from the dogs Monday night indicated a "strong possibility" 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year-old Lyric Cook-Morrissey had been at the lake, less than a mile from downtown Evansdale, where their grandmother was babysitting them, KWQC reported. However, Breault said because there were no confirmed sightings at the lake, authorities couldn't be certain.
The girls went on a bike ride Friday afternoon and never returned.
According to Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office, Collins and Cook were last seen at approximately 12:15pm on Friday July 13th in Evansdale.
Although 30 agents from the FBI and the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation joined the search on Saturday, the FBI didn't bring the two dogs to the area until Monday night; the dogs were used again on Tuesday, authorities said.
Using scent pad samples taken from the girls' shoes, the dogs picked up a scent trail which will help authorities build a timeline, she said, WOI-TV here reported.
Misty Cook-Morrissey, Lyric's mother, told CNN that after smelling the scent pads Monday, the dogs ran around the lake and stopped at the water's edge.
It was this reaction that convinced authorities to drain Meyers Lake.
"It's law enforcement's opinion, let's be 100 percent sure, and the only way to do that is to drain the lake," Blackhawk County Sheriff's spokesman Cpt. Rick Abben told reporters in a news conference Tuesday afternoon, The Gazette reported.
FBI Divers and Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team
It could take two to three days to drain the lake to a point where searchers will know if anyone is there, Evansdale Mayor Chad Deutsch said, according to CNN. The lake covers approximately 25 acres.
According to Boston.com, Breault said Wednesday that a FBI dive team from Los Angeles may join other agents and Iowa officers. if the divers are deployed, they would search the deeper holes of water in the lake.
Breault also says the FBI's Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team of five or six is on the scene in Iowa. She would not comment on the focus of their investigation. This development follows on the heels of the dogs detecting a scent trail of the girls.
Abben said searchers found the girls’ bikes and a purse containing a deactivated cellphone Friday, but no shoes, clothing, or signs of a disturbance, near the Evansdale Nature Trail that encircles the lake,” Cedar Rapids' KCRG reports.
Elizabeth apparently used the cellphone to play games and listen to music.
“We have the bicycles and we have the purse,” he said. “That doesn’t tell me they’ve been there, it tells me those items were there.”
I feel like maybe they were taken
"Because we haven't found them anywhere in the surrounding area, I feel like maybe they were taken," Cook-Morrissey told CNN on Wednesday.
Heather Collins, the mother of Elizabeth, agrees.“Elizabeth would never go on a bike ride down there by herself without an adult," said Collins to Fox's Shepard Smith over the phone. "And it’s 1.5 miles from our house. Her normal route is around like the block or you know up and down the block, that’s it."
Collins added, “You just see two missing bikes and a purse thrown up over a chain-linked fence and you see nothing else, we just feel that they were taken.”
She also told Smith about their close knit community, describing the town as a “pretty safe” area where “everybody knows everybody, you know all the kids go to school together, you know it’s just a really tight community,” she said.
It's so tight a community that neighbors in this town know exactly how many people live there -- 4,751 -- so tight a community that neighbors see the girls as two of their very own; so tight a community that Evansdale Mayor Deutsch decided while waiting for the lake to drain, he would take to the air: he took off in his twin-engine plane and flew over his town looking for any sign the little girls.
But not only have Lyric and Elizabeth captured the hearts of those in Evansdale, but the hearts of the nation.
“We are looking outside of Evansdale now,” Abben said, adding that some calls have led them to search outside Evansdale, which is located about 12 miles southeast of Cedar Falls. “We have people who think they have seen someone, and those calls are being followed up.”
No evidence exists right now to suggest this is a crime, which means the search remains a missing persons case.
"It's like they vanished," he told CNN affiliate KWWL. "There's just nothing
"We've never gone through anything like this. It's hard enough just to get up and deal with the reality that your daughter is gone," said Dan Morrissey, Lyric's father.
“I have no idea where they are,” Abben told Cedar Rapids' KCRG at a late-afternoon news conference, he paused, adding: “I wish I did.”
Courtesy of the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office
Missing poster with photos of Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 8, who disappeared Friday, July 13, 2012, in Evansdale, Iowa. Their bikes were found Friday afternoon near a bike trail at the edge of Meyers lake.
Cedar Valley's WCFCourier also reports that a reward of $15,500 has also been offered to the person or persons who can help find the girls.
Authorities are asking anyone who saw the girls to call the Tip Line, (319) 232-6682. It’s manned 24 hours.