With the second anniversary of the disappearance of Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins just a few short months away, police have confirmed that one of their possible suspects was cleared on Wednesday. Michael Klunder abducted two teenage girls on May 20, 2013 in Dayton, Iowa, less than two hours from Evansdale, where the two younger girls had disappeared the previous summer. The younger of the two managed to escape and run to a nearby farmhouse. Sadly, 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard was murdered by Klunder, who then killed himself.
Despite the similarities in the kidnappings, Evansdale police chief Kent Smock is confident that Klunder could not have had any involvement in the disappearance and murders of Lyric and Elizabeth. You may remember that these two cousins left their grandmother's house on July 13, 2012 to ride their bikes around the sleepy Iowa town. Later that afternoon, both bikes, as well as a purse belonging to 8-year-old Elizabeth, were found near Meyers Lake. Other than that, there was no sign of them, until their bodies were discovered at Seven Bridges Wildlife Area, just over 20 miles away.
Though Klunder was not initially a suspect in the kidnapping and murders of the Iowa cousins, he was heavily investigated after his death, due in a great part to his propensity to kidnap children in pairs, as he had done with Kathlynn and her friend, as well as another time prior to these incidents. Additionally, the proximity in which the crimes occurred makes it seem very likely that he could be responsible in both cases. Otherwise, how much evil can be confined in such a small area? However, all sources of information point away from him being in the area of Evansdale the day the girls were taken. Rather, it seems he was at work, at home, or en route all day long.
Even though Michael Klunder has been officially declared not a suspect in the Iowa cousins kidnapping, police remain hopeful that they will apprehend the person responsible for the deaths of these two little girls. Black Hawk county authorities are collaborating with the FBI, hoping that between the two groups, they can bring justice to these girls and their families. However, at least for tonight, their killer remains free, possibly preying on other young girls.
There is a $150,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for murdering these two little girls. If you have any information, anything at all that may be helpful to police, call the Tip Line at (319) 232-6682 or Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers at (855) 300-8477. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Even something as small as peculiar behavior or unexplained injuries could lead to a big lead.