On Thursday afternoon, investigators said with confidence what many people expected to hear: They believe the bodies discovered by hunters Wednesday afternoon are those of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins.
Just as the community spent months searching together and praying together, now they're grieving together.
"These two little girls have touched ... everybody," said Dona Frickson, a close friend of the Collins family. "It isn't just us. It's everybody."
Frickson and her daughter, Sarah Staebell, became an integral part of the search for the missing cousins. Now, as the news of Lyric and Elizabeth's fate reaches the community, they're determined to be part of the healing.
"The pink represented keeping the hope alive before," Staebell said. "Now we need to keep their memory alive. So the pink isn't going anywhere."
Frickson and Staebell believe keeping the pink up lets the families know the community still stands behind them. That's especially important for the girls' surviving brothers and sisters.
"They have to know, too, that their little sisters' lives are not in vain," Frickson said. "Because of this, a lot of good is going to happen. It has happened."
When things are this dark, it's easy to turn down a negative path. But Staebell said Drew and Heather Collins want everyone to move forward with a positive attitude.
"Thinking bad (and) getting angry isn't going to help anyone," he said. "We just have to turn it into something good in Lyric and Elizabeth's name."
While the search for the girls is over, the effort continues to find the person or people responsible.
"We're just on to the next fight. To bring justice and make it right," said Staebell.
"And they're coming home," Frickson added. "They needed to come home."
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