MISSING IOWA GIRLS: Elizabeth Collins, left, and Lyric Cook-Morrissey are seen in these undated family photos. (Photos from the Des Moines Register)
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Two bodies found Wednesday are being linked to the disappearance of Iowa girls Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins, authorities said.
The bodies were found at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday by hunters. Authorities would not confirm that the bodies were those of the girls, or even of two female children, but mentioned the investigation often and said the bodies led them to believe the search for the girls would not have a positive outcome.
The bodies have been sent to the state examiner's office for positive identification.
The announcement was made at a 4:15 p.m. news conference held by Blackhawk County authorities.
Lyric Cook-Morrissey, then 10, and her cousin Elizabeth Collins, then 8, disappeared from the Waterloo suburb of Evansdale on July 13.
Their grandmother last saw the girls riding their bikes shortly after noon on July 13; a firefighter found their bikes along a recreational trail at a nearby lake about four hours later.
Since then, hundreds of volunteers have searched an area surrounding the lake where the girls were last seen. The lake was drained and members of both families were questioned.
Authorities had believed the girls were abducted but have released little information about the search for their whereabouts.
Since then, both families have reached out to the public, asking that the girls be returned.
Last month to mark the four-month anniversary of the girls' disappearance, parents Drew and Heather Collins, and Dan Morrissey and Misty Cook-Morrissey submitted a letter to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier intended for anyone who might have abducted the girls.
"Taking the girls from us has caused much pain, pain for them, pain for us and our families," the parents wrote. "We want you to know that we are praying for you to do the right thing. By releasing the girls, everyone wins. Even you. The person who took them."
Last week, an anonymous donor offered $100,000 for any credible information leading to the safe return of the girls. More than $50,000 had already been donated to a fund.