Morenci Police end hope Skelton boys will be found alive

A custom crystal plaque containing a photo of Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton has been installed at The Toledo Children's Memorial in their memory.

Police in Morenci now say the case of three brothers missing since late November has turned into a murder probe.

Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks gave an update Tuesday afternoon on the status of his department's investigation surrounding the missing Skelton boys. Weeks says his team is making a "shift in the investigative focus" and wants to put to rest any hope that the boys will be found alive.

Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton were last seen in their father's backyard on Nov. 25, 2010. The boys were reported missing when they were not returned to their mother, Tanya Skelton's, home. John Skelton told a court, during a Dec. hearing, that he gave his sons to an organization.He refused to identify the person or group. At an unrelated hearing on Friday, Skelton told a judge that he cannot return the boys to their mother.

Skelton has pleaded not guilty to three counts of parental kidnapping. He is currently being held on $30 million bond.

At Tuesday's media briefing, Weeks said Skelton is now a primary suspect in the ongoing investigation.

In early December 2010, a source within the investigation said Skelton had admitted, during questioning, to killing his three sons. However, he was initially charged with parental kidnapping only.