- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

EVANSDALE, Iowa (AP) - Investigators asked the public Tuesday to call in tips about anyone familiar with an isolated wildlife area where two Iowa girls’ bodies were found in 2012.

Evansdale Police Chief Kent Smock said he had “no doubt” that whoever killed 10-year-old Lyric Cook and 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins was familiar with the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in rural northeastern Iowa. He said residents should turn over information about any acquaintances known to frequent the “extremely remote” area, which is well-known locally.

“We are asking that everyone think about anyone they know who is familiar with Seven Bridges. At some point in their life, they may have hunted there. They may have fished there,” he said at a news conference carried on live television. “They may have gone there to party.”

Hunters stumbled on the bodies of the girls, who were cousins, in the park in December 2012. They had gone missing five months earlier while riding their bikes in Evansdale, about 22 miles away.

The abduction and slayings have attracted an enormous amount of attention from local, state and federal investigators. But 2½ years after the girls disappeared, Smock said investigators have not established any suspects, persons of interest or motive. It’s still unclear, he said, whether one or more people were involved in the kidnapping and slayings.

“There have been a multitude of people who have risen to the top who we watch, who we investigate,” he said. “Do we have a person who we definitely are targeting? At this time, no we don’t.”

His plea for help from the city council chambers in Evansdale, a city of 4,700, came after investigators traveled to Virginia last week to discuss the case with experts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the FBI and other agencies.

Smock said hundreds or thousands of people are familiar with the wildlife area, noting he went there as a young man to get together with friends. He said he realized people may be uncomfortable casting scrutiny on relatives, friends or acquaintances, but that investigators would be careful not to falsely accuse or tarnish anyone’s reputation.

Investigators have promised a $150,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and conviction. Information that leads to an arrest could trigger an additional $20,000 from a separate reward fund.

Smock said people who hunt, fish and camp there regularly might want to come forward so they can be ruled out, saying, “I hope the phone rings off the wall.”

“Let’s remember why we are doing this,” he said. “We have two little girls here that will never see another Christmas, another holiday or another school year. The families of these girls are from our community. They deserve closure. And more importantly, Elizabeth and Lyric deserve to rest in peace.”

A psychological profile of the potential killer, developed with the help of federal investigators, said the person likely “blends in with” or is part of the community. That detail has residents and investigators concerned.

“We’re investigating it under the thought that it could happen again,” Smock said. “We want this case solved before that person may take action again and we have another child victim.”

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