Elizabeth Smart Offers Hope and Encouragement to Families of Two Missing Iowa Cousins

PHOTO: Cousins Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, left, and Elizabeth Collins, 8, vanished on July 13, 2012.
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More than a month after two Iowa cousins went missing on a bike ride through their small town, the girls' families received some welcome encouragement this week from one of the most famous kidnapping survivors in the country.

Elizabeth Smart, who was finally found by police after a nine-month search in Utah a decade ago, urged the Iowa families not to lose hope, reminding them that "miracles do happen."

"For as many bad things that we hear about that happen, for as many kidnappings and terrible stories about finding the remains of children, why can't these girls be the exception?" she told the Des Moines Register.

"There's always hope," Smart said.

"Her words of encouragement are hopeful I was afraid to even hear her talk about it. ... I was just afraid to even to go there, nine months you know is just so long, but her words of encouragement are uplifting," Heather Collins, the mother of one of the missing girls, wrote in a text message to ABC News. "Keeping our faith we know that the lord will bring them home safe and soon. We haven't had any news yet if they do have a lead they can't tell us because [it could] jeopardize the case."

Smart was 14 years old at the time she was abducted in June 2002 by Brian Mitchell, who held her captive until police rescued her in March of the following year. While Mitchell kept Smart tied up and raped her, police continued searching for her.

"There did come a point where I was like, 'You know, chances are they probably think I'm dead,'" she told the Register.

Ten-year old Lyric Cook and her cousin Elizabeth Collins, 8-years old at the time, disappeared on July 13 when they were out on a midday bike ride in their neighborhood of Evansdale, a small town near Waterloo in northeast Iowa. Their bicycles were recovered on a trail near Meyers Lake about four hours later, but the girls have yet to be found.

In a statement released Aug. 10, Black Hawk County Sheriff spokesman Rick Abben said, "Investigators continue to gather evidence and are still receiving test results on evidence previously obtained."

In the past five weeks, authorities have struggled to find any leads on the cousins' whereabouts. There is a $50,000 reward for the girls' safe return.

Elizabeth Collins' mother Heather, who attended the Iowa State Fair this month, told ABC News' Alex Perez in July that the wait for the girls' to resurface was an agonizing time.

"A day doesn't seem like a normal day," Collins said. "It's just like it doesn't stop. It keeps dragging and dragging. You're just waiting for a time to go up to your room. You're just waiting, waiting, waiting."

"Whoever's out there, we're just begging you to bring our girls back home," she said.

ABC News' Alex Perez contributed to this story.

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