(ANKENY, Iowa) — Nearly five months after Iowa cousins Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins disappeared, the girls’ families have been told two bodies were found by hunters in a wooded area, though the identities of the bodies have not been confirmed, authorities said.
Capt. Rick Abben of the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the bodies are being transported to the state’s medical office in Ankeny, Iowa, for positive identification.
“It’s definitely not the outcome that we wanted, obviously,” Abben said. “This is a difficult thing for us to go through.”
Lyric, 11, and Elizabeth, 9, vanished shortly after noon on July 13 while on a bike ride in the small town of Evansdale, Iowa, triggering a massive search that brought the town to a standstill. The girls’ bicycles and a purse were quickly found near Meyers Lake, but there was no sign of the girls.
On the two-month anniversary of the girls’ disappearance, local residents held a prayer vigil and authorities urged members of the public to provide any new information that might help them solve the case.
Authorities said the girls left Elizabeth’s house in Evansdale around 12:15 p.m., were spotted at approximately 12:23 p.m. at a nearby intersection and then were seen between 12:30 and 1 p.m. on a road by the lake.
During the following week, authorities canvassed the area and drained the town’s lake. Lyric’s estranged parents, Misty and Dan Morrissey, at one point became the subject of intense police scrutiny because of their criminal pasts and their lack of cooperation.
Over the summer, the families received a boost when Elizabeth Smart, one of the country’s most famous kidnapping survivors, offered some words of encouragement. Police found Smart after a nine-month search in Utah a decade ago.
“For as many bad things that we hear about that happen, for as many kidnappings and terrible stories about finding the remains of children, why can’t these girls be the exception?” Smart told the Des Moines Register.
Elizabeth’s mother, Heather Collins, told ABC News’ Alex Perez in July that the wait for the girls to resurface was an agonizing one.
“A day doesn’t seem like a normal day,” Collins said. “It’s just like it doesn’t stop. It keeps dragging and dragging. You’re just waiting for a time to go up to your room. You’re just waiting, waiting, waiting.”
“Whoever’s out there, we’re just begging you to bring our girls back home,” she said.
A $50,000 reward had been offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the girls’ disappearance.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio