White van suspicions - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

White van suspicions


The hunt continues for two cousins from Evansdale missing for three weeks.

Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook disappeared July 13th.  Their bikes and a purse were found at Meyers Lake in Evansdale, trigging a massive hunt by law enforcement.

Wednesday night the FBI released pictures of a white Astro van that was at the Evansdale Casey's convenience store on the day the girls disappeared.  The owner of that van saw that photo on our station, and contacted the police.  He later called us to explain that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"My family and I went down to the Evansdale police station and they released me and we got it all sorted out and I'm not a suspect in any way and its just they were following a lead," Mike Knief said.

The photo release came one day after a Cedar Rapids man reported three people in a white van had approached his son.  The father told police a man grabbed his son and tried to force the five year old into a white Astro van while a woman picked up the child's bike.

And last week in Dubuque, police were called after a man in a white van approached a young girl.  Police talked with the owner of the van, and decided not to file any criminal charges. 

All these white van incidents seem to be drawing suspicion about anyone who drives similar vehicles.  The Iowa DOT says there 143 white Chevy Astro vans of all model years registered in Black Hawk County alone.

Certainly as two young girls remain missing in Evansdale, any possible new leads give a lot of people hope that they could be connected.  But in our unscientific poll, van drivers we talked to aren't worried about being profiled because of their vehicles.  Their focus--like so many in the community--is bringing Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook home safely.

Wayne Nathem operates CBC Freight in Waterloo.  Like so many people, he's hoping for the best, yet fearing the worst, for the two young girls missing from Evansdale.

"We hope everything turns out the best for the whole family.  And as parents, I feel saddened the girls haven't been found by now," Nathem said.

As part of the investigation into their disappearance, police went to CBC and looked through every vehicle.  Nathem's co-worker Katie Torrey says her son was also questioned by police because he drives a white van.  Torrey says that's just another way the missing cousins case has hit home with her.

"I have grandkids that are small, 18 down to four, and yes, I worry about them.  I grew up in Evansdale and nothing like that every happened," said Torrey.

But Torrey and Nathem don't mind the minor inconvenience of searches and extra attention by police.

"Every leaf has to be turned over for the safe return of these two girls, you know.  We're more than willing to cooperate with them.  We had already check our vehicles prior to them coming over, and we encouraged them to go ahead and check again," Nathem said.

After all, white van or not, police remain committed to following up on any information they believe might help find the girls.

And of course if you have any information you think could help find the missing girls, call the Evansdale tip line at (319) 232- 6682.  If the automated system picks up, stay on the line for an operator, or you can  contact the FBI directly at (402) 493- 8688.


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