Posted: Jul 20, 2012 9:34 PM
EVANSDALE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities in Iowa have taken steps to keep a closer watch on the father of one of two missing cousins, a man with a lengthy criminal history who stopped cooperating with police in the week-old investigation, court records showed Friday.
A judge has ordered Daniel Morrissey, 36, placed in a pretrial supervision program of the Iowa Department of Corrections while he faces September trials in two separate drug cases. The change means Morrissey, who has been free on bond, will be supervised by parole officers who will make sure he shows up in court and does not violate the terms of his release.
Morrissey is the father of 10-year-old Lyric Cook-Morrissey, who vanished near an Evansdale lake while riding bikes with her cousin, 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins. A special FBI dive team used sonar equipment Friday to search the 26-acre Meyers Lake, and divers planned to go underneath the surface later Friday, FBI spokeswoman Sandy Breault said. The girls' bicycles were found on a path near the lake.
Black Hawk County prosecutor Brad Walz petitioned to place Morrissey under supervision Thursday, the day authorities said he and his wife had stopped cooperating with investigators. Walz cited Morrissey's arrests on methamphetamine-related charges and noted Iowa law allows a person on bond who is considered "a habitual felon" to remain under supervision as a condition of release.
Black Hawk County Chief Deputy Rick Abben said Thursday evening he's not sure why the couple had stopped cooperating, but it created a distraction for investigators. He said Morrissey and his wife aren't considered suspects and the investigation is still considered a search for missing persons. Abben did confirm that Morrissey took polygraph tests earlier in the week.
Tammy Brousseau, an aunt of both girls, told The Associated Press on Thursday that Morrissey and his wife, Misty Cook-Morrissey, feel they're being treated as suspects. An attorney advised the couple on Wednesday to stop talking to reporters, discontinue television interviews and not agree to take any more polygraph tests, Brousseau said.
Walz and County Attorney Tom Ferguson didn't immediately return phone messages Friday. Messages left for Morrissey's defense lawyers in the drug cases also were not returned.
The order issued by Senior Judge Jon Fister on Thursday said the sheriff's office should deliver the supervision notice personally to Morrissey, who was directed to report to corrections officials immediately after receiving it.
Morrissey has been charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and other crimes. He posted bond and was released in May. He faces the prospect of a lengthy prison term.
Cook-Morrissey, 34, also has a criminal history, having pleaded guilty in 2003 in federal court to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine, court documents show. She also has theft and alcohol violations in state court and is on supervised release after her probation was revoked in September because of drug and excessive alcohol use and failure to comply with drug tests.
Meyers Lake, near an interstate in northeast Iowa, is stocked with fish and popular for fishing. Investigators dredged it after the girls disappeared and began draining the water before halting that operation Thursday because the FBI dive team needs at least 6 feet of water for its sonar equipment to function.
On Friday, parts of the lake were nearly empty, with the sandy and muddy bottom showing, but other areas still had up to 20 feet of murky water. FBI agents made laps of the lake in an Iowa Department of Natural Resources boat, while four other agents slowly walked along the shore, looking for evidence. They waded into water that ranged from ankle-deep to chest-high.
Black Hawk County Chief Deputy Rick Abben said agents were looking for the girls' bodies as well as anything in the lake that might be evidence. He said a search last weekend with sonar equipment operated by DNR found nothing in the lake, but FBI's technology is far superior.
The FBI uses two kinds of sonar - one that can detect debris in murky water and another that provides a 360-degree analysis of the bottom of the lake. That device is mounted on a tripod that sends signals to computers on the surface helping direct divers where to search.
"It's high-tech," Abben said. "It should be pretty good stuff."
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)