By Sharyn Jackson
Elizabeth Collins' younger sibling wanted to visited sister in heaven
When Callie Collins learned her big sister Elizabeth had died, the 4-year-old wanted to visit Elizabeth in heaven, the parents of the siblings said today during a news conference.
“At first, she thought you go visit heaven,” said Heather Collins, the girls’ mother. “We explained, no, unless you die, you don’t go visit heaven.”
So Callie talks to Elizabeth instead, Heather said. “She’ll look up to the sky and just talk.”
Heather and Drew Collins spoke to media before a celebration of life service for Elizabeth, who with her cousin, Lyric Cook-Morrissey, disappeared on July 13. The bodies of Elizabeth, then 8, and Lyric, then 10, were found last week in a secluded area of Seven Bridges Nature Area, a Bremer County park about 25 miles north of from where the girls went missing.
During the 20-minute press conference, the grieving parents discussed how they have handled the disappearance and death of their daughter; how they feel about today’s memorial; and what they will do next.
Since Elizabeth’s disappearance, her siblings have all been in counseling, Heather said. The couple’s 7-year-old daughter, Amber, draws angels. “They’re handling it the best they can,” Heather said.
The Life and Love Celebration today includes a visitation, followed by a service. “I’ve planned a lot of parties,” Heather said. “This is the most important one I’ve ever planned.” She said she started going through Elizabeth’s baby clothes and other memorabilia last week, things she had kept even though Drew told her it was “crazy.”
Looking at relics of Elizabeth’s life broke Heather’s heart, she said. “She’ll never have a chance to walk down the aisle. Never have a family of her own. It’s heartbreaking.”
The celebration will be in place of a funeral, Drew said, adding that the family will hold a private burial at a later date.
“This would be the way she would want us to celebrate her life instead of any other way,” Drew said.
On Monday, the couple will head to Des Moines to meet with Gov. Terry Branstad to talk about reinstating the death penalty in Iowa, and to seek stricter punishments for sex offenders.
- I've looked around, but I do not see anything that says who killed this child, and if sex was involved. This article says the father suspects a sex offender did it, but that is only his opinion and not the facts. It sounds to me like a murder, so why punish ex-sex offenders for murder? That is like punishing all DUI offenders for someone murdering someone.
Drew Collins told reporters that if there had been a death penalty, perhaps Elizabeth and Lyric's killer would have let them go.
"You get life in prison if you kidnap someone and you get life in prison if you murder someone in Iowa,” Drew said. “There was no reason to let (Elizabeth and Lyric) live.”
The family has stated that they forgive Elizabeth’s killer, but they still want the perpetrator to face punishment.
- I think everybody would like whomever did this to face punishment, but wanting to punish ex-sex offenders just because you "suspect" a known sex offender did it, is absurd!
“I can forgive someone and Heather can forgive someone but they still have to meet justice,” Drew Collins said. “One doesn’t have anything to do with the other. They have to be punished for what they’ve done.”
“It’s just not fair that they can take a life and they can sit in prison and they can live the rest of their lives out and their families get to go see them. We don’t get to go visit our daughter. She’s gone.”