The bodies of a mother and her three children, two boys and one girl, were recovered in a lake outside Saint Paul, Minn., and the authorities said they were investigating it as a “possible triple murder-suicide.”
Officials said they believed the deaths at Lake Vadnais were likely connected to a reported death by suicide on Friday morning in the city of Maplewood, which is less than eight miles outside Saint Paul. The authorities have not publicly identified the victims.
The string of events began after officials said they were called to a home in Maplewood for a reported death by suicide. When officers arrived, the police said they found the body of a man.
Mike Martin, the undersheriff of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, said at a news conference on Saturday that the authorities started searching for the three children, who officials said were under the age of 5 or 6, and their mother because officials were worried about their well-being as a result of the call related to the suicide death in Maplewood.
Officials did not specify how that call was linked to the deaths of the mother and the children. The sheriff’s office declined to offer more details and the Maplewood Police Department did not respond for a request for comment.
The authorities tracked the mother’s phone to Vadnais-Sucker Lake Regional Park and when officers arrived, they found her car and children’s shoes by the lake. That’s when law enforcement began searching around the park and in the water.
At around 7:30 p.m., officers recovered one child from the lake and attempted lifesaving measures, but the child was declared dead at the scene.
Shortly after midnight, the authorities found a second child who was also dead. The search continued in water as deep as 10 feet until 3 a.m. when operations were suspended until sunrise on Saturday. The woman was recovered at 10:40 a.m. on Saturday, and 20 minutes later, the third child was found, Undersheriff Martin said.
The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of the deaths, the authorities said.
“Our goal was to find the children and the mother and to return them to their families and we’re glad that we were able to do that,” Undersheriff Martin said.
Heidi Gunderson, the mayor of Vadnais Heights, described the deaths as tragic.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and the responding officers and firefighters that assisted in the search,” she said in a statement. “As a mother, there really aren’t words to express the sadness of the loss of three children.”
If you are having thoughts of suicide, in the United States call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Go here for resources outside the United States.
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