Search of northwest Ohio areas continues for missing Mich. boys

Andrew, Alexander, and Tanner Skelton

A search for three Morenci, Michigan boys, missing since Thanksgiving Day, continues Tuesday, despite grim expectations.

Authorities and volunteers shifted the focus of their search for the young Skelton brothers from Morenci to areas in Williams County, just south of the Ohio-Michigan border and north of the Ohio Turnpike.

The search is on for any sign of 5-year-old Tanner, 7-year-old Alexander, and 9-year-old Andrew Skelton; however, during a morning press conference on Tuesday, authorities said they do not "anticipate a positive outcome" in the case after three full days of searching.

The boys' father, John Skelton, told investigators that he gave the boys to a woman named Joann Taylor on Friday before he attempted to commit suicide. He said she was to take the boys to their mother's home. Authorities now say they believe Skelton lied to them about Taylor and that a reported relationship between the two does not exist.

Skelton was unsuccessful in his attempt to hang himself. He is now being treated at a mental health facility in Ohio. Police say they have been engaging in conversations with Skelton regarding where his sons may be located. Those conversations may have led them to believe the boys may not be found alive.

Skelton and his estranged wife, Tanya Skelton, are in the process of divorcing and have been engaged in a custody dispute regarding their young sons. State records show Tanya is on Michigan's sex-offender registry for a 1998 misdemeanor in which she plead guilty to having sex with a 14-year-old boy.

Tanya Skelton was awarded sole custody of the boys after John took them to Florida without their mother's knowldge. However, after John fought back, citing his wife's sex offense, an agreement was reached letting John spend time with his sons.

Crews searched areas of Williams County on Monday, including a campground where authorities believed John may have taken the boys in the past. Searchers have set up a command center in Pioneer, with searches extended to West Unity, Kunkle and Holiday City.

Authorities are asking the public if they saw John Skelton's 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.

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