MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Four months after two young brothers disappeared while playing outside their home on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, a volunteer search party spotted their tiny bodies encased in the ice of First Thunders Lake.
``Our worst fears were confirmed,'' FBI Special Agent Ralph Boelter said, announcing that the boys' bodies had been found about a half-mile from their home.
Police dogs picked up the scent of Tristan Anthony White, 4, and Avery Lee Stately, 2, on Sunday, the first day of searching after the weather warmed, Boelter said. Authorities have not determined whether foul play was involved.
The two boys, both American Indian, disappeared on Nov. 22. from their home in a remote area near the Canadian border.
Divers searched First Thunders Lake shortly after the brothers were reported missing, and hundreds of volunteers and law enforcement officers scoured the area, but they found no sign of the boys.
The initial ground search was called off after five days. Boelter said rescuers resumed on Sunday in hopes the warmer weather would help the search.
One theory is that the boys wandered away to the southern edge of the lake, then walked across the partially frozen water before falling through the ice, Boelter said.
The boys' mother, Alicia White, and Avery's father, Jeff Stately, feared the children had been abducted.
Authorities plan to conduct autopsies on the boys in the coming days to help determine what happened.
``I'm grateful that we found the bodies,'' Boelter said. ``Obviously it's very tragic for the families involved as well as the Red Lake Community.''
The reservation had faced another tragedy less than two years before the boys' disappearance. On March 21, 2005, 16-year-old Jeff Weise killed his grandfather and the grandfather's girlfriend on the reservation, then went to the high school and killed seven more people, including a teacher and a security guard, before killing himself.