The Ottumwa Courier

AP Iowa

July 8, 2013

Slain cousins case frustrates as anniversary nears

EVANSDALE, Iowa (AP) — Nearly a year after two Iowa cousins were abducted and killed, family members and police remain frustrated by the investigation's slow progress.

Elizabeth Collins, 8, and Lyric Cook, 10, disappeared July 13, 2012, after riding their bikes near Meyer's Lake in Evansdale. Investigators from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and FBI are trying to determine what happened to the girls, who were found dead in December.

Drew and Heather Collins told the Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/14VZsMm ) the pain of losing their daughter remains fresh a year later.

"It's never over," Drew Collins said. "Even a year later, it's not over, and I don't think it's ever going to be over. You're hit with something so devastating your life is never going to be the same."

The Collinses have devoted themselves to causes related to the girls' deaths, including lobbying state officials to approve tougher penalties for sex offenses.

Becoming activists has been a new experience for the couple, but they are driven to make sure other families don't have to endure the same pain.

"Most people don't get into what we're doing now unless (they) have had something tragic happen to them," Heather Collins said. "You have to try to do all that you can to make it better for the next person, as hard as it is to be doing what you're doing."

Drew Collins said he struggles to stay focused on the family tree-trimming business at times.

The Collins said they're also trying to help their son Kelly, 14, and daughters Amber, 7, and Callie, 5, cope with the loss of their sister.

The girls' abduction has strained relationships among the extended family.

Lyric's mother, Misty Cook, has not commented publicly since the girls' bodies were found last December. Heather Collins said her relationship with Misty Cook wasn't the best beforehand, so there's little to go on now.

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