Hunters have discovered two bodies believed to be those of Iowa cousins who went missing five months ago, authorities have said.
The bodies were found in a wooded area, but the police refused to divulge the exact location since it would hamper the investigation.
The families of the girls – 11 year-old Lyric Cook-Morrissey and 9-year-old Elizabeth Collins – had been informed of the tragic discovery, Black Hawk County sheriff's Capt. Rick Abben said Wednesday at a news conference in Evansdale, not far from where the children had gone missing, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
"It's definitely not the outcome that we wanted, obviously," Abben said.
"This is a difficult thing for us to go through. It's a difficult thing for the community," he added, recalling how officers had worked round the clock looking for the girls.
The bodies had been transferred to the state medical examiner's office to confirm their identities, he said.
The girls went missing July 13 while riding bikes near Meyers Lake in Evansdale city, 110 miles from Des Moines.
The children left their home shortly afternoon and were spotted at a nearby intersection and on a trail near the lake. Investigators had secured a video grab of the girls, passing a road near the lake that showed them moving away from the lake, ABC News reported.
The children’s bicycles and a small pink purse were discovered later near the lake but there were no trace of the girls.
Authorities and hundreds of volunteers had searched the cornfields and the wooded areas in and around Evansdale for months. Police even drained the lake to make sure the girls were not drowned and announced a reward of $50,000 for any information about the girls.
Police had initially subjected Cook's parents, who had criminal records, to intense grilling but they denied of having any involvement in the children’s disappearance. Cook's separated parents had been earlier convicted of drug felony charges and had served prison sentence.
The local residents were heartbroken at the news and held candle light vigils for the girls. The tight-knit Evansdale community had rallied behind the families and canvassed for the missing girls.
"We're a tight community that cares about one another, and when something happens to one family it happens to all of our families. This could have happened to anyone," Sarah Curl, a family friend, told the AP.