As a third day of intensive searching yields no sign of two missing boys on the Red Lake Reservation, their mother pleads for help and the FBI offers a $20,000 reward.
RED LAKE, MINN. -- As the third day of intensive but so-far fruitless searching for her young sons wore on Friday, Alicia White said that she is "prepared for the worst" but still hopeful that Tristan A. White, 4, and Avery Lee Stately, 2, will be found alive and unharmed.
"I'm trying not to think the worst, but it's been so cold out there and people have been searching all over and can't find them," she said.
Flanked by other family members, White pleaded for help from anyone who "knows anything or has seen anything about the whereabouts of my babies," who have been missing since Wednesday morning.
"They were just playing outside," she said. "That's the last I saw them."
The FBI announced a $20,000 reward Friday for information that might help them determine what happened to the boys, last seen about 9:30 a.m. as they played outside their home in the remote, wooded Walking Shield area of Red Lake.
The FBI also brought in more high-tech equipment, including unmanned aerial vehicles that flew over the search area with video cameras rolling to supplement ground searchers, dog teams and members of the Marshall County Mounted Posse.
Also, an airplane with specialized heat-sensing equipment was to do flyovers Friday night, and divers from St. Louis County used radar and underwater cameras to examine a series of small lakes and ponds in the search area.
Despite all those efforts, "As of now, I have no reports of finding anything," FBI special agent Paul McCabe said late Friday.
He said investigators continued to press a two-pronged investigation, trying to determine whether the boys wandered off or whether foul play was involved.
"We don't have any information that would lead us either way," he said. Nobody has reported seeing anything unusual, and searchers have found no clothing, no breaks in pond ice or other signs of what might have happened to the two youngsters.
'Sweetest little boy'
In her first public comments on the disappearance of her boys, Alicia White said that Tristan "loves water, and Avery, he just follows his brother." Smiling, she described Avery as "the sweetest little boy, just lovey-dovey."
She said that Tristan is adventurous and sometimes wandered off when the family lived in Redby, another town on the Red Lake Reservation.
"But we always found him," she said. "This is the first time we didn't find him."
She feels "lost," she said. "My babies are gone out there in the cold by themselves."
Tristan has a medical condition, she said, and he did not take his prescribed medication the morning he disappeared.
The boys' grandfather, Myron Jones, thanked volunteers, law enforcement officers and others who have been searching for the boys.
"I'm praying for the best," he said. "Hopefully, they're safe and will show up."