The father of three missing Morenci brothers told a judge Thursday morning that his sons were with an "organization" but did not say where.
John Skelton, 39, appeared in Circuit Court of Lenawee County before Judge Margaret Noe for a civil hearing regarding his failure to comply with a custody order. The court appointment was unrelated to the ongoing criminal case against him. Skelton is charged with three counts of parental kidnapping in relation to the disappearance of Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton.
Skelton stated under oath that the he gave his boys to someone from an "organization" who visited the his home on Thanksgiving Day. He declined to give any further details or give any insight into his sons' whereabouts. He said he does not know the person who came to his home and took his sons. (This statement has been updated from previous posting to reflect correction issued by Morenci Police.)
The Morenci man's sons have been missing since last being seen in his backyard on Thanksgiving. They were reported missing by their mother , Skelton's estranged wife, Tanya, the next day, after not being dropped off at her home.
On Wednesday, Skelton told Lenawee County Court Judge James Sheridan that he only has $20 in his bank account and thus needed a court-appointed attorney to represent him. An attorney was assigned to him before a preliminary hearing was set for Dec. 28.
Skelton remains held in the Lenawee County Jail on $30 million bond , $10 million for each charge against him.
The Morenci Police Department says they continue to receive tips regarding the missing brothers, including a number of suspected sightings of the boys. All tips have been followed, but none have been confirmed.
Authorities continue to ask for any information which may lead them to the boys' whereabouts. Citizens are asked to report any sightings of the John Skelton, his minivan, and his sons between 2:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and 1:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26. An investigation indicates Skelton may have been travelling in the van with the boys, somewhere in the area of Williams County, Ohio, between the hours of 4:30 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 26.
Anyone with information is asked to call 517-458-7104.
A $10,000 reward from an anonymous donor has been set for anyone with information that leads to the location of the Skelton boys. The City of Morenci has also established an additional reward fund for information leading to the return or recovery of Andrew, Alexander and Tanner. Those wishing to donate to the Skelton Reward Fund may do so at any First Federal Bank branch or by mailing donation to: First Federal Bank, Attn: Skelton Reward Fund, 601 N. Clinton St., Defiance, OH 43512.