Bodies Identified, New Legislation Proposed

Posted at: 12/10/2012 2:59 PM
Updated at: 12/10/2012 5:21 PM
By: James Wilcox

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Evansdale police say an autopsy has confirmed that two bodies found last week in a wildlife area are those of Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook.

Police Chief Kent Smock says he received confirmation Monday from the Iowa State Medical Examiner's Office that the bodies were the two cousins, who had been missing since July 13. The full autopsy hasn't been released to police.

Elizabeth was 8 and Lyric was 10 when they went for a bike ride in the northeastern Iowa community and didn't return.

Hunters found their bodies last week in the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in Bremer County, about 25 miles from where they were last seen.

Authorities closed the park while they searched for evidence connected to the case but now have reopened the area.

The deaths have prompted a push for new legislation called "Cousins' Law."

The core of Cousins' Law is a quick response. Those supporting the proposal say technology is the key to reaching a community faster when a child goes missing.

"Hopefully we can come up with a rapid response alert for when children go missing when they don't meet the criteria of an amber alert," says Sen. Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls.

The rough draft of cousin's law shows an emphasis on new media. A mass text message and voice mail alerts will be sent to nearby neighbors and businesses within the first hour and a half a child is reported missing to police. An Amber Alert wasn't issued when the girls disappeared because, at the time, their situation didn't meet the right criteria.

Sen. Danielson says, "It's easy to want to accomplish everything but realistically that's not how laws change."

But some critics of Cousins' Law say it's too intrusive too fast. A portion of the bill proposes volunteers search neighborhood homes if a child is not found within 2 hours. Danielson says every criticism needs to be considered so that a new law honors the memory of Lyric and Elizabeth.

"We want swift justice for whoever did this, but we also want positive change to come from this tragedy," says the senator.

A petition pushing for the law already has more than 10,000 signatures. Of course it still needs legislative action before moving forward. Some lawmakers also say the killings will have them working to reinstate the death penalty in Iowa. Governor Branstad, however, said that will not be one of his priorities in the upcoming session.