EVANSDALE, Iowa — Investigators handling the case of two Indiana girls who were killed in February said they don’t see anything to link those slayings to the deaths of two Evansdale cousins in 2012.
“We are comparing our case to their unsolved case. We have done that. We have talked with the investigators in Iowa. At this point in our investigation, it appears merely coincidental, the similarities in this case, but we don’t believe they are connected at this point,” Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said Thursday.
“As of right now, there is no connection,” said Agent Michael Roehrkasse of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 8, disappeared on July 13, 2012, while they were riding their bikes in Evansdale. Their bodies were found in December 2012 in a rural Bremer County wilderness area.
Abigail "Abby" Williams, 13, and Liberty Rose Lynn "Libby" German, 14, disappeared Feb. 13, 2017, while hanging out near an abandoned railroad bridge near Delphi, Indiana. Their bodies were found the following day in a wooded area about half a mile away.
Both cases are unsolved.
Authorities noticed similarities in the crimes. Both involved a pair of young girls, both involved rural, wooded areas, and both happened on the 13th of the month.
Beyond that, authorities can’t find anything connecting the cases, Perrine said. He did go on to say investigators weren’t ruling out a connection between the crimes.
“We just compared notes with the investigators,” Perrine said. "It’s too early in our case to say they are connected. We don’t have any similar evidence. But we’re not ruling it out. We’re not prepared to say yes or no now."
He said agents with the Iowa DCI, which is handling the cousins case, began communicating with Indiana investigators shortly after the Delphi incident.
One of the elements that drew Iowa officials’ attention to the Indiana case was that it involved a double abduction.
“Statistically, they are very rare. And that’s one of those reasons that it caught our attention,” Roehrkasse said.
“This case is unique, just like your case is in Iowa is unique, and that’s why people are putting them together,” Perrine said.
Roehrkasse said that although the DCI is talking with Indiana officials to explore possible connections, they also are giving them room to conduct their investigation.
“We were in that boat four and a half, five years ago,” Roehrkasse said. "During that time, there was an abduction in Colorado as well as in Wyoming in the early stages of our case (in Evansdale) ... Other agencies were calling us, and that kind of takes you away from your core mission."
Another double abduction caught the attention of investigators in the cousins case in May 2013 when two young girls were kidnapped near Dayton, Iowa. Suspect Michael Klunder killed one of the girls, the other fled, and Klunder took his own life. Ultimately, authorities determined Klunder was likely near his Stratford home at the time the cousins disappeared in Evansdale, and he was ruled out as a suspect.
In the Indiana case, investigators have released a grainy photograph of a person walking on the Delphi Historic Trail near where the bodies were found.
“During the course of the investigation, preliminary evidence has led investigators to believe the person, in the distributed photograph, is a suspect in the investigation of the homicides of Abigail Williams and Liberty German,” Indiana State Police said in a prepared statement.
Also, authorities released a voice recording of a man saying “down the hill” that was extracted from a video found on Liberty’s cellphone.
Anyone with information about the Indiana case is asked to call the Delphi Homicide Investigation Tip Line at 844-459-5786. Information also can be reported by calling the Indiana State Police at 800-382-7537 or the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department at 765-564-2413. Information also can be emailed to Abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com.
Anyone with information on the Evansdale case is asked to call the Evansdale Police tip line at 319-232-6682 or Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers at 855-300-8477. A $150,000 reward, raised privately and by the FBI, is available for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers has a $20,500 reward for anyone coming forward with information that simply leads to an arrest.