On July 13, 2012, Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, and her cousin Elizabeth Collins, 8, went missing from their neighborhood in Evansdale, Iowa. Five months later, their remains were found in the Seven Bridges Wildlife Park.
Lyric and Elizabeth had spent the morning of July 13, 2012 with their grandmother, Wylma Cook. The girls left their grandmother’s house around noon to ride their bikes outside. A local auctions house’s camera caught them riding their bikes around 12:11pm. The police note in the video the girls are traveling in the opposite direction of Meyers Lake.
Lyric and Elizabeth often rode their bikes within a 2-block radius. When their grandmother could not find them, she became worried she went out to look for hem, with no luck. In an interview Wylma gave, she stated the cousins went out to ride their bikes hundreds of times and this time they did not come home. When her daughter, Misty Morrissey, finished worked and was supposed to pick Lyric up, she still had not been located, causing the family to search the neighborhood.
After the family’s search did not locate the girls, they called 911 and reported them missing. Police started canvassing for anyone who may have seen the girls and found a witness who placed the girls on their bikes near the 1000 block of Lake Avenue, close to Meyers Lake.
Around 4:00 pm, their bikes were found in the southeast area of Meyers Lake. Elizabeth’s purse and cellphone were also found. The FBI was called in to help the investigation and large-scale searches were conducted. Investigators searched Meyer lake and determined the girls did not drown. Interviews with family, friends, and sex offenders in the area did not turn up any leads.
After a week of searches, investigators determined the girls were most likely abducted and ruled out accidental causes.
A group of hunters found two sets of remains on December 5, 2012, in a remote area of the Seven Bridges Wildlife Park, 25 miles away from where the girls were seen last. The remains were positively confirmed to be Elizabeth and Lyric; the manner of death was homicide.
Investigators initially suspected the murders may have been occurred because of Lyric’s parents’ involvement with illegal activity. Both Misty and Dan Morrissey had a substance use disorder. Dan had recently been arrested and was facing decades in jail for the manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine. Dan has since been sentenced to and is serving his sentence in Iowa.
Investigators have not made a connection between the parents and the death of their daughter and niece.
After months without any developments, investigators announced in 2013 that a white SUV-type vehicle may have a link to the double homicide. Three different people had told police they saw a white van; two of the witnesses told police they saw the van parked in between two bike trails and the other saw the van a few hundred feet from where the bikes were found. The sightings were reported in between 11:30am 12:30pm. This announcement did not generate any promising leads.
FBI Profile of Suspect
In 2014, police had released a partial suspect profile, hoping it would bring it new leads.
In 2018, a woman, Teresa Gerleman, 36 jumped in front of a train, killing herself and her son, Henry Field, 8. Before the murder-suicide, Teresa had told investigators she had information about who committed the double homicide. Police searched her home and found four cellphones, two notebooks, two sealed envelopes, and a hand written letter. The letter, Teresa claimed, was written by the killer, but investigators say there is nothing of substance. The information in the letter was old and had already been vetted with no leads.