Minnesota authorities are investigating a "possible triple murder-suicide."
First responders found a man dead on Friday, then began searching for a woman and her three children.
After a two-day effort, authorities pulled four bodies from the water of Vadnais Lake.
Authorities in Minnesota have pulled the bodies of three young children and their mother from a lake, calling the incident a "possible triple murder-suicide" linked to a man found dead on Friday.
In a statement released Saturday evening, the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office said the incident began on Friday, when authorities were called to the scene of a possible suicide involving an adult man.
While investigating the apparent suicide, authorities also began searching for an adult female and her three small children, Undersheriff Mike Martin told reporters in a press conference on Saturday. Authorities tracked the mother's phone, which led them to the Vadnais-Sucker Lake Regional Park, where they found only a vehicle and children's shoes.
Authorities immediately launched a search-and-rescue operation, and sheriff's deputies pulled the first child from the water on Friday evening. Though first responders tried to take "life-saving measures," the child was pronounced dead shortly after, the sheriff's office statement said.
On Saturday morning, first responders pulled two other children and the mother from the lake — one was recovered shortly after midnight, the mother was recovered at 10 a.m., and the last child was pulled from the lake at 11 a.m., authorities said. All of them were dead.
Martin said first responders searched the lake mostly visually, and with boats equipped with sonar equipment. After identifying "possible objects of interest," divers would enter the water and physically locate the victims, he said.
"All three children referenced are believed to be under the age of five or six years old," the sheriff's office said. "In total, four bodies, one adult and three children (two boys and one girl), were recovered from the lake over the course of a two-day search effort."
The sheriff's office did not identify the children or the two adults and said the causes of death are being investigated by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner.
It's still unclear how the man found dead on Friday was related to the woman and three children. Martin told reporters on Saturday that the sheriff's office "can't talk about the man at all," as his death is being investigated by a separate police department. Insider has reached out to the Maplewood Department of Public Safety for comment on the death investigation.
"This is one of the most difficult things we have to deal with," Martin told reporters. "Not only are we trying to recover these folks, but a lot of us have our own families, our own children, and it's really difficult."
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