The search for a mother and her three children ended Saturday after authorities recovered their bodies from a lake in Minnesota following an hours long rescue and recovery operation.
The rescue and recovery operation at Vadnais Lake, just outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, started Friday at about 4 p.m. following reports of a possible murder-suicide, according to Maplewood police.
The body of the first child was recovered on Friday night at about 7:30 p.m., according to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, one of various agencies assisting local police in the search. A second child's body was found on the lake at around midnight.
The bodies of the third child and the mother were found late Saturday morning after authorities re-initiated search efforts.
The mother's body was found at around 10:40 a.m. and the remaining child's body was recovered about 20 minutes later.
Ramsey County Undersheriff Mike Martin said in a press conference Saturday afternoon that all of the remains are being taken to the medical examiner's office, which will be releasing information on causes of death.
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said Friday officials were treating the case at the lake as a “potential triple-homicide.”
"That has not changed," Martin said Saturday.
Authorities have said the search may be connected to a death investigation involving a possible suicide earlier in the day.
Maplewood police said officers first responded to a call of a suicide Friday morning. At about 10:30 a.m., a man was found dead in his home. The man is thought to be the father of the three children, Lt. Joe Steiner said.
As they investigated the man’s death, information from family members led police to search for the mother and her three children, Martin said.
Police was able to track the mother's cellphone to Vadnais Lake that afternoon following reports of a potential murder-suicide, according to Martin and Steiner.
Authorities found a vehicle and other items connected to the family at the lake, leading authorities to believe they were still in the area, Steiner said.
A dive team, fire and Emergency Medical Services, cadaver dogs as well as other resources assisted with the search.
The three children, two boys and a girl, were all believed to be under the age of 5, Martin said.
Vadnais Lake is located in Vadnais Heights, about 7 miles north of St. Paul and 9 miles northwest of Maplewood.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.