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RED LAKE, MINN.: Cause of deaths still under investigation

The bodies of the two brothers who disappeared Nov. 22 from their yard in the Walking Shield neighborhood of Red Lake were found Sunday morning. The autopsies of Tristan Anthony White, 4, and Avery Lee Stately, 2, were conducted Monday by the Hen...

The bodies of the two brothers who disappeared Nov. 22 from their yard in the Walking Shield neighborhood of Red Lake were found Sunday morning.

The autopsies of Tristan Anthony White, 4, and Avery Lee Stately, 2, were conducted Monday by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office.

FBI Special Agent Paul McCabe said in a telephone interview that the Sunday search had been planned for several weeks to take advantage of the first break in the weather.

McCabe said the FBI would announce the results of the autopsies after agents receive the reports.

"To date, from all investigations, there have been no indications that foul play was involved," McCabe said.

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The search started about 8 a.m. Sunday and the bodies of the boys were found about three hours later. It took until about 10 p.m. to extricate them from the ice of First Thunder's Lake, a small lake in the Walking Shield neighborhood to the east of State Highway 89.

Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said his department assisted the Red Lake Police Department during the recovery. Bemidji Fire Chief Dick Sathers said a firefighter from his department also assisted ferrying the bodies across the ice in a Stokes basket.

When the boys disappeared between 9:30 a.m. and 9:50 a.m. Nov. 22, a massive search with volunteers and law enforcement officials riding four-wheelers and horses and using bloodhounds covered the woods near the boys' home.

The lake was also searched in November by divers who found no sign of the boys. That search was called off five days after the boys vanished.

McCabe said Monday that the dogs picked up the scent fairly quickly Sunday because parts of their bodies were exposed, whereas in November there was no sign of the children.

After their disappearance, the boys' mother said she believed the boys must have been abducted because searchers found no trace. Since then, rumors cropped up regularly, and McCabe said the FBI checked out every lead.

During a press conference Monday morning, Red Lake Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain Jr. issued a statement describing how saddened and hurt the people of Red Lake are at the news. Many people were hoping the brothers would be safely returned to their home.

He also expressed gratitude to all the people, and agencies that devoted their time, energy and resources to finding the missing children. "Your efforts are deeply appreciated by the family of the deceased, the reservation communities, and the entire Red Lake Nation membership," he said.

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Television and other media crews flocked to the Red Lake Reservation Monday. The school went into lockdown to prevent television crews from entering and the chairman had them escorted off the reservation later in the day.

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