An FBI dive team brought in special equipment to search the lake days later, and the case was reclassified as an abduction after no sign of the girls emerged. Months passed — as did each girl's birthday — without any news as police chased thousands of tips and explored theories about what could have happened. Volunteers held prayer vigils and hung pictures of the girls. An anonymous donor last week pledged $100,000 for information leading to their return and the conviction of those responsible for their disappearance, on top of the $50,000 authorities had announced.
Authorities had asked hunters to look for the girls in remote woods and fields this fall. Jennifer Lancaster, chief law enforcement official for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in northeastern Iowa, said she believed deer hunters happened to come upon the bodies and called police.
"I think it's the first time someone happened to be in that particular spot," she said. She said she believed anyone who saw the remains would have reported them immediately because "that is certainly a case that has tugged the hearts of many people around northeastern Iowa."
Foley reported from Iowa City, Iowa.
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