DES MOINES -- A new reward fund was established Friday to help police make an arrest in the case of two eastern Iowa cousins whose bodies were found this month.
A monthlong fund drive organized by the Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers raised $20,500 through public donations and various fundraisers, including bake sales.
The money is available to anyone who wishes to remain anonymous but provides information that leads to an arrest in the case of cousins Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook. The girls, 8-year-old Elizabeth and 10-year-old Lyric, went for a bike ride July 13 in Evansdale and didn't return. Hunters came across the girls' bodies Dec. 5 in the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area, about 25 miles from where the girls were last seen.
"There's somebody out there who may not be directly related but who knows something that will help," said Evansdale Police Chief Kent Smock. "We're trying all avenues. This is just another method of trying to get people to come forward with that last bit of information we need."
Smock said a caller with information will be given a unique identifying code that allows them to be paid without providing their name or being required to testify at trial. The caller must provide information that can be verified by investigators and that leads to an arrest.
He said it's unusual to have that much money provided for information leading to only an arrest.
The new reward is being offered in addition to a $50,000 fund earlier established by law enforcement and $100,000 offered by an anonymous private donor. The $150,000 will be paid upon the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator. The additional requirement of a conviction means authorities may expect the caller to participate in prosecution and possibly testify at a trial to collect this money, Smock said.
Smock said calls continue to come in to his department and the CrimeStoppers hotline -- 855-300-TIPS (8477).
"We still have a lot of investigators following a lot of leads," he said.
He declined to discuss whether authorities believe the person responsible is from the Evansdale area.
A memorial service was held for Elizabeth Collins on Dec. 13 with more than 1,000 people attending.
A service for Lyric Cook is planned for Dec. 29.