EVANSDALE — Nearly four years after a tragedy, the town of Evansdale is looking to safeguard against repeating the past.
In July 2012 cousins Elizabeth Collins, 8, and Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, disappeared during a bike ride. Their bodies were found months later.
Heather Collins, Elizabeth’s mother, said she wants parents and children to be aware of the dangers and to be careful.
“That person or those people are still out there,” Collins said of her daughter’s killer. “So please keep an eye on your children. … I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. Because it’s hell.”
On July 13, the fourth anniversary of the disappearance, Evansdale will hold a “Child Safety Awareness” identification event. Children will receive kits to record their fingerprints and take DNA samples. John Deere is supplying funds for the kits.
“We want to raise awareness so the community takes notice of the safety of other people’s kids,” said Jeff Jensen, Evansdale police chief. “We don’t want to repeat things that have happened in the past.”
The Evansdale police and fire departments, along with Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers, Black Hawk County sheriff’s deputies and other Cedar Valley agencies will speak about safety.
Evansdale police will have a drug dog, Sali, on hand for children to meet. Jensen wants children to know they need not fear police.
“We want the kids to look at us as real people who aren’t there just to arrest mommy and daddy,” Jensen said.
The event will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at Angels Island — an island in Meyers Lake dedicated to Collins, Cook-Morrisey and other young murder victims. There will be no charge, and families from across the Cedar Valley are encouraged to attend.
Jensen said the kits are mostly for the youngsters to play around with and have fun, but that they can also prove helpful to police in an investigation.
He said, hypothetically, that if a child was kidnapped at a young age, fingerprints and DNA could identify them years later.
“Your fingerprints don’t change; your DNA doesn’t change,” Jensen said. “That stuff really does help.”
The DNA kits consist of cotton swabs to use for the collection of cheek cells. Once the kids collect the cells, parents are encouraged to keep the swabs in a dry, safe place.
“If we can help one family, one child, it’ll be worth it,” said Dona Frickson, president of the Evansdale Chamber of Commerce.
Frickson said anyone interested in teaching or demonstrating at the safety event should contact her at: email@example.com.
Sky lanterns will be released that day as a memorial for Elizabeth and Lyric.
The fourth-annual Memorial Bike and Drive for the Girls will be held July 9. Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Lofty’s Lounge in Evansdale. Cost is $20, with proceeds going to Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers and Angels Memorial Park.
Collins said July 13, known as “Elizabeth and Lyric Day,” is about the community coming together, just as it did four years ago.
Collins said she and her husband rest assured that justice will come.
“I know they will get justice,” Collins said of her daughter’s killer. “If not here on Earth, when they meet their Maker.”
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