Hunters found a pair of bodies in the woods in northeast Iowa, and authorities are linking them to the case of two missing cousins, Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook-Morrissey. Police, who are waiting for information from state medical examiners, haven't officially identified the bodies, but they've notified the families, the Des Moines Register reports. A Facebook post by Elizabeth's mother, Heather, says she received "the gut wrenching news that my beautiful daughter and niece’s bodies were found by hunters today." The girls, 8 and 10 when they went missing in July, "are up in heaven with our savior."
"The hope was very high that these girls were going to come home alive, so this is quite traumatic for everybody that was involved," said a searcher. Still, others remained unsure as a sheriff said he couldn't "confirm or deny anything." "We’re still holding out complete hope that it’s not them," says the mother of one of Elizabeth's classmates. Following the news, some 80 locals gathered last night at the lake where the girls' bikes were found. "I'm totally shocked and very heartbroken—you just feel for that family," one attendee told KCRG.