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VADNAIS HEIGHTS, Minn. – The bodies of a woman and her three children were recovered from a Minnesota lake on Saturday in an apparent triple homicide, authorities said.

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The three children — two boys and a girl — were all under the age of 6, Ramsey County Undersheriff Mike Martin said during a news conference.

Searchers pulled the first body from eastern part of Vadnais Lake in Vadnais Heights on Friday at about 7:31 p.m. CDT, the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis reported. The other three bodies were recovered on Saturday, according to the newspaper. Their names have not been released and the manner in which they died has also not been disclosed.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office said the incident was being investigated as a possible triple murder-suicide.

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends,” Martin told reporters. “Our goal was to find the children and their mother and return them to their family.”

The search came after police in Maplewood police said they received information of a potential murder-suicide around 4 p.m. Friday that was related to the discovery of an adult male’s body earlier in the day, WCCO-TV reported.

Martin said police tracked the woman by pinging her cellphone, KARE-TV reported. At around 4 p.m. CDT Friday, police found her car abandoned at Vadnais Lake. The first body — one of the boys — was found around 7:31 p.m. Friday. The other boy, the girl and their mother were pulled from the lake by 11 a.m. CDT on Saturday, WCCO reported.

The shoes of the children were found on the shore, The Associated Press reported.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher called the case a “likely triple homicide” on Friday night, and authorities said Saturday they continued to investigate it as a homicide.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Fletcher said during a news conference on Friday night.

The investigation is still active and ongoing, WCCO reported. The four bodies were brought to the medical examiner’s office for further investigation.

Ramsey County Water Patrol Commander Eric Bradt said about 20 law enforcement officers, not including the fire and emergency crews, aided in the search.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years as a cop, and water patrol for most of it, and this was one of the more difficult ones,” Bradt told KARE.

Note: If you or someone you know is thinking of harming themselves, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free support at 1-800-273-8255. Beginning July 16, 2022, U.S. residents can also be connected to the Lifeline by dialing 988. For more about risk factors and warning signs, visit the organization’s official website.