FBI divers, sonar to look for Iowa cousins

Associated Press
This combo made from undated photos provided by Black Hawk County police shows cousins Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, left, and Elizabeth Collins, 8, who have been missing since Friday afternoon, July 13, 2012. The girls were last seen Friday afternoon leaving their grandmother's house. (AP Photo/Black Hawk County Police via Waterloo Courier)
.

View gallery

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — One week after a pair of young Iowa cousins disappeared, an FBI dive team with sonar equipment is set to search the lake near where the girls' bicycles were found.

Meyers Lake is about a mile from the home where 10-year-old Lyric Cook-Morrissey and 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins were being watched before they went on a bike ride and never returned. It has been the focus of search efforts since the girls went missing July 13.

Authorities had been draining the lake for three days when they stopped Thursday because the sonar equipment needs at least 6 feet of water to work properly.

FBI spokeswoman Sandy Breault said the team will begin the search of Meyers around 6 a.m.

Meanwhile, tension between investigators and one set of parents seemed to reach a breaking point Thursday, with police suggesting they weren't cooperating completely and the couple consulting an attorney.

Tammy Brousseau, an aunt of both girls, told The Associated Press on Thursday that Lyric's parents, Misty and Dan Morrissey, feel they're being treated as suspects.

They were advised Wednesday by an attorney to stop talking with the press, discontinue television interviews and to stop taking polygraph tests, Brousseau said Thursday, though she said she's not aware whether either had failed a test.

"That makes it a distraction for us when people decide to do things other than to cooperate 100 percent," Black Hawk County Chief Deputy Rick Abben said Thursday, "however, it's their choice how they wish to proceed with that."

Abben said investigators have been aware of the Morrisseys' criminal record since girls' disappearance in the northeastern Iowa city of Evansdale, a suburb of Waterloo.

"Everyone was checked into. We did background checks on those people immediately and on everyone," Abben said.

Dan Morrissey, 36, has three drug convictions on his record, including possession of marijuana and ingredients used to make methamphetamine. Court records show his most recent drug conviction was in 2011. He also was charged with domestic abuse causing bodily injury in August 2011 and has a trial date set for September.

Misty Morrissey, 34, pleaded guilty in 2003 in federal court to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine, court documents show, and also has theft and alcohol violations in state court. Last September, she also had her probation revoked for violating terms of her probation, including use of illegal drugs, excessive use of alcohol and failure to comply with drug tests — and is now on supervised release.

Court records show that Elizabeth's father, 40-year-old Drew Collins, has been convicted of fifth-degree theft.

Lyric and Elizabeth reportedly were last seen July 13 at the Collins' home, where their grandmother, Wylma Cook, was watching them. The home is about a mile from Meyers Lake.

Brousseau said earlier Thursday that one male family member briefly walked out of a police interview in frustration this week. While she didn't identify the man, Cook told The Des Moines Register it was Dan Morrissey, who Cook said was upset after police accused him of killing the cousins.

"They've been cooperating with the police 100 percent, but because police don't have a silver Cadillac that tore off with the kids, they don't have no leads," Brousseau said.

The Associated Press tried to contact Brousseau and the Morrisseys later Thursday, but all calls went to voicemail, which said the phone line wasn't accepting messages.

The FBI dive team uses two kinds of sonar — one that can detect debris in murky water and another that provides a 360-degree analysis of the bottom of the lake. That device is mounted on a tripod that sends signals to computers on the surface helping direct divers where to search.

View Comments (6)