Cops Suspect Dad in Missing Iowa Girls Case, Family Member Says

PHOTO: 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins and her cousin, 10-year-old Lyric Cook, were last seen Friday, July 13, 2012, around the noon hour riding their bikes in Evansdale, Iowa.
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EVANSDALE, Iowa – The aunt of the two missing Iowa cousins said Thursday that authorities have accused a family member of involvement with the girls' disappearance.

Tammy Brousseau, the sister of Misty Morrissey and Heather Collins, whose daughters Lyric Cook, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 8, vanished last Friday, said Morrissey's estranged husband Daniel Morrissey has been the subject of intense police scrutiny.

"They have accused him," Brousseau said. "They told him they had proof that he did it."

"They found out a couple of family members have a criminal history so they're focusing really hard on them," she told reporters today.

Police today said they could make no one available to speak with reporters because all available staffers were out working to find the missing girls.

Brousseau told reporters that the family was at a hotel last night when the FBI showed up to interrogate them. Daniel, she said, kept telling investigators that he needed to sleep, a comment that prompted authorities to ask him how he could sleep at a time like this.

"They're working with them 100 percent despite what they're saying," Brousseau said of Daniel and Misty.

In the past day, investigators have seized the couple's computers. Now, Tammy said, the couple has been advised by an attorney not to talk to the police or the media or take any more polygraph tests.

Brousseau acknowledged that Misty is currently on federal probation. Also, Tammy noted, the couple is under a restraining order but are now allowed to spend time with each other as long as they don't fight.

Earlier, Misty and Daniel Morrissey had said they have been questioned so extensively by police that it is now getting on their nerves.

"You tell them the truth and they say, 'You're holding something back,' and you're not. What is left to talk about? You know, we go over and over and over again," Daniel Morrissey told KCCI Des Moines this week. "It made me feel like, 'Yeah, they're looking at me like a suspect.'"

Both Daniel and Misty have criminal records. In fact, Misty, whose maiden name is Cook, was just released from federal prison on May 30 after being convicted of nine crimes, including illegal drug use, association with persons involved in criminal activity, excessive alcohol use, and failure to comply with drug testing.

Eight years earlier, in 2003, she was sentenced to four years behind bars after she plead guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine. Her sentence was later shortened to five months in prison and one year of supervised release. In 1998 she was found guilty of having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle and in 1997 she plead guilty a false report to law enforcement, a crime for which she was sentenced to six days in jail.

Misty also ran into trouble along with one of her bosses. According to court papers, Misty played a role in a meth operation run by David Mickelson, her former boss at the BIG Ten Mart in Waterloo, Iowa.

"Cook testified that she obtained pseudoephedrine pills from various people and provided them to Scott Reavis, who used them to make methamphetamine," court records state.

Cook twice purchased case quantities of pseudoephedrine pills from Mickelson – for $1,400 a case – and provided them to Reavis to make meth. Mickelson was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture meth and distribute pseudoephedrine with that intent. He was sentenced to 121 months in jail.

Since the early 1990s, Daniel Morrissey has been convicted of burglary, theft, drug possession, intoxicated driving, parole and probation violations and interference with official acts, according to online court records.

The revelation of Misty's criminal past comes at a time when she finds herself in the national spotlight. In an interview with ABC News Wednesday morning, she said she had talked to the police time and time again as authorities have investigated what happened to Lyric and Elizabeth.

"We've done extensive interviews, hours at a time. We've done polygraphs. We have taken many phone calls, answered many questions," she said. "We've given our phones up. All of our data has been, you know, taken off of our phones. In fact, my sister and my phone is now not – our touch screens aren't working very well. So we've cooperated to the fullest, you know."

Former FBI special agent Brad Garrett believes investigators are looking closely at every aspect of the parents' lives.

"What comes into question is how does that play into what is presently going on in their lives? And more particular, does it have any relationship to these two missing girls?" Garrett said.

In the weeks before the girls' disappearance, Misty and Daniel were having problems at home – they were preparing to file for divorce after being separated for years.

"They are not a couple," Misty's sister Tammy Brousseau told ABC News Wednesday. "They are currently separated and maybe well on the way to a divorce."

Daniel Morrissey, who has a criminal record himself, told ABC News Tuesday that he was trying to keep his emotions in check during this difficult time.

"I'll tell you something about emotions. A lot of people base their decisions off emotions and it doesn't work out too well. They're angry, they make a bad decision, whatever," he said. "So emotions I try to keep control of and keep my head straight. During this time, it's definitely challenging, but I have to keep my mind right."

Authorities, meanwhile, have steadfastly maintained that both Misty and Daniel have cooperated fully with their investigation.

"They are still continuing to cooperate with us as we would expect," Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office spokesman Rick Abben said Wednesday at his daily press briefing on the missing girls' case.

Asked about Daniel Morrissey's comments that he felt "like a suspect," Abben replied, "I haven't talked to Mr. Morrissey. I don't know why he feels that way. We expect cooperation from everyone – 100 percent cooperation. So I don't know why he feels that way."

As national media descended on Evansdale this week, a small town of around 5,000 people in northeastern Iowa, Misty and Daniel were frequently spotted at Meyers Lake, where the girls' bikes were discovered last Friday. The couple talked to reporters on Tuesday and then again early Wednesday. But come Wednesday evening, as word of their criminal pasts made the rounds, the two were nowhere to be found. Only Brousseau, whose other sister Heather Collins is grappling with the disappearance of her daughter Elizabeth, spoke to reporters.

"Police always automatically treat the immediate family [as suspects], especially when you have a case where the children weren't seen shoved into a vehicle and drove off and you have a license plate or a description, you know. On that of course they go on the lead there. Here they have no lead," Brousseau said. "They don't know where these girls went, so they're going to focus on the fathers. Do the moms, you know, have anybody who's out to get them? Do the kids have any enemies, things like that? That's just standard procedure. I know they've gotten really nasty with them and stuff, but that's their job, that's what they do, and that's how they bring stuff to the surface. So I'm glad they're doing their job."

ABC News' Emily Stanitz contributed to this report.

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