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Authorities ‘confident’ bodies are 2 Iowa cousins

EVANSDALE, Iowa — Investigators are confident that human remains found by hunters are those of two young Iowa cousins who vanished while riding their bikes in July, authorities said Thursday.

Autopsies by the state medical examiner’s office were still underway, but the remains are believed to be those of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins, who were 10 and 8 when they did not come back from riding their bikes July 13, Black Hawk County sheriff’s Captain Rick Abben said.

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Hunters found the bodies Wednesday in a rural wildlife area in northeastern Iowa, about 25 miles from Evansdale, the city of 4,700 where the girls were last seen. Authorities found their bikes and a purse near a recreational lake in the city, and their disappearance sparked a massive search and kidnapping investigation involving the FBI and state and local police.

Abben said at a briefing Thursday that investigators were ‘‘confident’’ the bodies were Cook and Collins based on evidence at the scene and a preliminary investigation.

Abben said investigators were leaning toward reclassifying the case as a homicide investigation, but would wait for information from the autopsies before proceeding.

Deer hunters apparently stumbled on the remains Wednesday in the secluded ­area, which is intersected by the Wapsipinicon River and is a popular spot for hunting and fishing.

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