Police: Father of missing boys lied about woman

Andrew, Alexander, and Tanner Skelton

Authorities searching for three brothers, missing Friday when their father tried to commit suicide, say they believe the father was lying about who had his sons.

Crews have shifted their search for the three boys to areas around Pioneer in Williams County, Ohio. The three boys were last seen on Thanksgiving Day in the backyard of their Morenci, Michigan home before their father tried to kill himself.

An Amber Alert was issued Friday for Tanner Skelton, 5; Alexander Skelton, 7; and Andrew Skelton, 9. They were reported missing that day by their mother, Tanya Skelton.

John Skelton, 39, of Morenci, told investigators that he didn't want the boys in his house when he committed suicide, so he asked a woman named Joann Taylor to take them to their mother, who is separated from Skelton. Authorities now say they have ruled out any reported relationship between a Joann Taylor and Skelton.

Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks told reporters on Monday that the are no longer considering Skelton's reported relationship with the alleged woman to be true. When asked if Skelton was lying about the relationship, Weeks repsonded, "Correct."

Weeks said authorities remain hopeful that the boys are still alive. The focus of their search has now shifted to areas of Williams County, just south of the Ohio-Michigan and along the Ohio Turnpike. A command center has been set up in Pioneer, with searches extending to Holiday City and West Unity.

A fixed wing aircraft has been brought in to help with the search.

Authorities are also asking the public if they saw a blue 2000 Dodge Caravan with Michigan plates "9JO H93" anywhere near the Ohio-Michigan border or Ohio Turnpike late Thursday or Friday. Investigators have reason to believe the boys were inside the vehicle at some point after their disappearance, and that the minivan had been on the Ohio Turnpike at the time in question.

Weeks says Skelton is being treated at a hospital in Ohio for "mental health issues" after trying to hang to hang himself Friday. He suffered a minor fracture in his ankle during his attempted suicide, according to Weeks. When asked if Skelton was a suspect in his sons' disappearance, Weeks said: "We haven't ruled anything out yet." Investigators continue to have conversations with Skelton regarding his sons.

If you have any information you are asked to call the Morenci Police Department at 517-458-7104.