RED LAKE, Minn. – Alicia White pleaded Friday for help from anyone who “knows anything or has seen anything about the whereabouts of my babies,” the young brothers who have been missing since Wednesday.

“They were just playing outside,” she said, surrounded by other family members at a news conference outside the Red Lake criminal justice complex. “That’s the last I saw them.”

Earlier Friday, the FBI announced a $20,000 reward for information that might help them determine what happened to the boys. They were last seen about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday as they played outside their home in the heavily wooded Walking Shield area.

Despite extensive ground searches by more than 100 professionals and about 45 members of the extended family and other Red Lakers, authorities said they still had found no sign of Tristan A. White, 4, or his two-year-old brother, Avery Lee Stately.

Alicia White said that Tristan “loves water, and Avery, he just follows his brother.”

She said that Tristan sometimes wandered off when the family lived in Redby, another town on the Red Lake Reservation, “but we always found him. This is the first time we didn’t find him.”

She said that she feels “lost – my babies are gone out there in the cold by themselves.” She said that Tristan has a medical condition and did not take medication the morning he disappeared.

She described Avery as “the sweetest little boy, just lovey-dovey.”

She said that she and other members of the family continue to hope that the boys will be found OK.

“I’m preparing for the worst, too,” she said. “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.”

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.”

But he acknowledged a growing fear that the boys were taken. “We probably would have found them by now” if they were still in the area.”

Lamont White, 8, the boys’ older brother, stood with his mother. The boys also have twin one-year-old sisters.

“We’re holding it together for each other, ” Alicia White said.

She also thanked volunteers and other searchers. “I thank them all, I thank everybody. It tells us we’re not in this by ourselves.”

FBI special agent Paul McCabe said that unmanned aerial vehicles outfitted with cameras have made passes over the search area today to take video. They were provided by the FBI headquarters.

Also, an airplane with specialized equipment will do flyovers tonight, and divers used radar and underwater cameras to probe a series of small lakes and ponds within the search area.

“As of now, I have no reports of finding anything,” McCabe said.

He said investigators continue to press a two-pronged investigation, trying to determine whether the boys wondered off or that foul play was involved. “We don’t have any information that would lead us either way,” he said.

He said that dog teams that worked the woods surrounding the boys’ neighborhood in the Walking Shield area of Red Lake Thursday night and early Friday morning likely would return to the woods late Friday night.

Riders from the Marshal County Mounted Posse also joined the search.

“Time is always a concern whenever you have missing children,” McCabe said. But searchers’ focus continues to be “that the children are alive,” he said.

He said that searches have found no clothing, signs of ice breakage or other physical clue to the boys’ whereabouts or what happened to them.

Searching today was being done primarily by professionals, including five dog teams from the Minnesota Search Dog Network and several members of Team Adam, part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“They are retired law enforcement professionals, and many are search experts,” McCabe said. “One flew in from Alaska. He is the former head of the Alaska state police search team. They also have access to databases.”

Also on the scene today are 30 members of the Civil Air Patrol, who are helping with the ground search, which McCabe said, would be expanded later in the day to include volunteers.

“The response of volunteers and the Red Lake nation as a whole, has been overwhelming,” McCabe said. “Searchers are frustrated at having found no sign of the boys, but they remain committed to looking for them.”

The FBI has established a hot line, and anyone with information should call 1-866-333-4969.

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