Law enforcement officials will likely expand their search for two missing Iowa cousins now that the girls' disappearance is considered an abduction case, experts said.
But experts said it's hard to tell exactly what's going on because officials probably aren't disclosing everything they know, including why they are confident that 10-year-old Lyric Cook-Morrissey and 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins are alive.
FBI spokeswoman Sandy Breault said Sunday that investigators want to talk to anyone who was at Meyers Lake in the northeast Iowa town of Evansdale before 3 p.m. July 13. That's where the girls' bicycles were found.
Breault's plea for help fits with what David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, expected would happen after the case was reclassified as an abduction. He said investigators now may be more dependent on tips from the public.
"They've got to cast a much wider net. They could be miles from that spot there," said Finkelhor, who is based at the University of New Hampshire.
Finkelhor said if the girls were abducted by a stranger, the statistics are grim — his research shows that 40-50 percent of children in that situation aren't recovered alive. But, he said, abductions by strangers are so rare that it's difficult to predict what might happen.
Several "persons of interest" have been interviewed in the case, and numerous tips from the public have come into investigators. Breault also said that most of the girls' family members have been cooperating with investigators.
Lyric's father, Daniel Morrissey, is being watched closely by authorities but has not been named a suspect. Morrissey, 36, has a lengthy criminal history and is no longer cooperating with police. He has been placed in a pretrial supervision program in two separate drug cases, so parole officers are monitoring Morrissey's actions.
Misty Cook-Morrissey, 34, also has a criminal record. She was convicted of federal drug charges and state theft and alcohol violations. She is currently on supervised release.
Investigators spent much of last week searching Meyers Lake and the surrounding area, which is about 120 miles northeast of Des Moines. The lake was mostly drained and the FBI used sonar technology and divers to search it, so investigators could ensure that the girls were not there.