One year without Elizabeth and Lyric

Heather and Drew Collins recall every last moment with their daughter vividly. And on their mind every day is the moment they realized Elizabeth, and her cousin Lyric, were not just lost, but taken.

“I started bawling and said — they’re gone. They’re gone. Somebody’s taken them. They’re gone. They’re not here,” Heather said.

The days after were chaotic, and at the same time it felt like everything was in slow motion. Even now, one year later, they still feel trapped in that nightmare.

“Every day it’s the first thing you do is get up and you’re like…okay. That sinking feeling that… It’s the first thing you think about, the last thing you think about before you go to sleep,” Drew explained.

But the Collins refuse to let their grief consume them. Initially, they knew they had to stay strong for their children. As time went on, it became all too clear that children across the state — and the country — needed their help.

That was especially true when Kathlynn Shepard was kidnapped and later found dead.

“Yeah it was… It was like everything hit us full blast,” they said.

They’re now working to revise many state laws — including those involving child predators, the death penalty, and the Amber Alert.

“She would not want us to sit around and mope and not be an advocate for her. That’s how she was! You knew her presence. She made sure everybody knew she was there. We feel that way we need to make it better for other children,” said Heather.

They’re also making their town better — with a lot of help from the community. Over the winter, a group of people came up with the idea of creating “Angels Park” at Meyer’s Lake — where the girls went missing.

Just a few weeks into summer the idea is already becoming a reality. Thanks to hard working volunteers, and generous donations, the park should be finished within a few months.

“Whether it was taking out loads of dirt, whatever it is, we’ve had so much support,” said Heather.

Manual labor and political lobbying keeps the Collins busy. But their minds are always on their niece and daughter’s killer.

“There’s going to be justice. There’s going to be a day where there’s going to be a knock on this person’s door,” said Drew.

Each day that goes by, they know they’re one day closer to finding that justice. They ask anyone who knows something about this case to come forward. So they can finally close this chapter, and truly let Elizabeth and Lyric rest in peace.

“I don’t want to be sitting with you another five years from now and wondering who did it,” Drew added.

Drew and Heather hope this somber anniversary will encourage someone with information to come forward. A reward of more than $150,000 is being offered for information leading to a conviction in this case. You can call the Evansdale police or email ourmissingiowagirls@dps.state.ia.us.

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