RED LAKE, Minn. - There is still no clue as to the whereabouts of two missing boys from the Red Lake Reservation.
Ground and air searches were called off Nov. 26 after the boys, aged 4 and 2, had been missing from their family home since Nov. 22. The family and friends continued the search Nov. 27, according to a family spokesman, and tribal officials said the search would continue with the help of tribal members.
Myron Jones Jr., the boys’ uncle, said the family is “very certain” that the boys were abducted from their home since no sign or trace of them turned up with the ground and air search.
“The family is not giving up, our hopes are still up,” Jones said. The family, he said, is still positive that the boys will be found safe.
Two-year-old Avery Stately and Tristan White, 4, disappeared while playing outside their home on Nov. 22, seemingly vanishing into thin air.
An extensive air and ground search that included volunteers from surrounding communities, the Red Lake Reservation and federal authorities turned up no evidence that the two wandered from their home. The area is home to abundant small lakes, ponds and wetlands; however, no broken ice or trail scent was found.
A search of more than 30 homes, crawl spaces under buildings and basements turned up no evidence.
The FBI has determined that no family members have the two boys. Paul McCabe, special agent and FBI spokesman, said more than 200 leads have been followed and, after interviews with family members, the FBI is confident that no relatives have the children.
Jones said the family has no clue who may have taken the boys but is relatively sure they were abducted.
“People here are saying there were trucks around here with state plates, nobody knew who the people were,” Jones said. State plates indicate that the vehicles were not from the reservation.
“We have the whole family working on this. We are getting rest, working in shifts. While some sleep others are awake; we switch around,” he said.
Even though the search has been called off, the FBI continues the investigation and will stay on the case until the boys are found.
“We won’t stop until they are found,” McCabe promised a gathering of tribal members and family. He also said there has been no evidence of foul play.
McCabe said, “We don’t have any indicators” that would point one way or other to an abduction or whether the boys just wandered off.
Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain also said there was no evidence of foul play, no signs the boys were attacked by wild animals or had fallen into nearby lakes. He said log piles and three bear dens were searched repeatedly.
Alicia White, the boys’ mother, said the last she saw of the boys was when they were playing in her yard. She said publicly that she was not trying to think the worst and asked that anyone with any information come forward.
“This touches me how the people on this reservation will take the time to come and help us search for my nephews, it makes me feel not forgotten on the reservation,” Jones said.
White said that Tristan would wander off from time to time, when they lived in another town on the reservation, but would always be easily found. She called him adventurous, and that his younger brother would follow and do whatever Tristan did.
The intense search turned up no sign of clothing or other evidence that the two boys had wandered from their home.
The Jacob Wetterling Foundation and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are directly involved with the search efforts.
The FBI has set up a hotline and has received more than 70 tips that have, to this point, turned up no substantial leads.
No Amber Alert was issued because the criteria for such has not been met, but McCabe told residents of the reservation that work with the media was as good as an Amber Alert.
The search involved high-tech equipment from the air, on the ground and underwater cameras. Organizations involved in the search were from local mounted posses that deployed search dogs, unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles, radar-sensing devices and heat-sensing equipment.
“We haven’t given up hope,” Jones said.
At the height of the search more than 100 volunteers took part in the search; and this very close-knit community responded to help and will continue to support the family and search for the boys, Jourdain said.
The FBI has established a $20,000 reward for anyone with information that could help determine what happened to the boys.
Tristan is about 3 feet 6 inches tall and was last seen wearing a dark blue Spiderman jacket with yellow trim, jeans and winter boots. Avery is about 2 feet tall, and was wearing a gray pullover sweat shirt with “Timberline” on the front. He was wearing faded jeans and Spiderman tennis shoes.
Anyone with any information is encouraged to call the FBI hotline at (866) 333-4949. The local FBI number is (612) 376-3200 and the Red Lake Police number is (218) 679-3313.