Police don’t see positive end in search for 3 boys

Published 11:18 am Tuesday, November 30, 2010

MORENCI, Mich. — Authorities “do not anticipate a positive outcome” in the search for three Michigan brothers who have been missing since their father’s attempted suicide, a police chief said Tuesday.

Searchers have been scouring woods, fields and roadsides in Michigan and Ohio to look for 9-year-old Andrew, 7-year-old Alexander and 5-year-old Tanner Skelton, but information including statements from the father John Skelton led to that assessment, Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks.

“Based on the information that we have, we do not anticipate a positive outcome,” Weeks told reporters at a news conference.

Email newsletter signup

The boys last were seen on Thanksgiving in their father’s backyard in southern Michigan, near the Ohio state line. Weeks said no decision has been made about whether to bring charges in the disappearance, and he declined to elaborate on what led investigators to reach their grim outlook about the search.

“He’s been forthcoming with some information, the credibility of which we cannot verify at this time,” Weeks said Tuesday of the father.

Police previously said that they don’t believe John Skelton’s claim that he handed his children over to a woman he met online and had crews searching areas in Michigan and along an Ohio highway where the FBI said Skelton’s blue minivan had been seen Thursday or Friday.

He has not been ruled out as a suspect, Weeks has said. Skelton, 39, has been in an Ohio hospital since Friday, receiving treatment for what Weeks earlier called “mental health issues” after telling police he tried to hang himself.

The boys were reported missing Friday by their mother, Tanya Skelton, who was awarded custody after filing for divorce on Sept. 13. They had been with their father as part of court-ordered visitation.

Morenci is about 75 miles southwest of Detroit.