Boys’ family agrees with winding down searchesWritten by David Panian | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Dive teams methodically checked ponds and lakes in Williams County, Ohio, Thursday as other searchers concentrated on a 300-acre wooded parcel and roadsides in the ongoing search for three young Morenci brothers who have been missing since last Friday.
Meanwhile, at a morning news conference held on Dec. 2, a spokeswoman for Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton’s mother, Tanya, said the family agreed with authorities’ decision to scale back the searches beginning this weekend.
“We support their decision to stop the organized search for the weekend to give volunteers the time to recuperate as well as time to spend with their own families,” Kathye Herrera said, reading from a prepared statement. “It will give the police a chance to reflect and refocus and decide what the next steps will be for everyone. We would not want a tragedy because volunteers are too tired, so please take this time and relax.”
Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks said Thursday that scaling back the searches primarily refers to the hundreds of volunteers who have flocked to Morenci this week.
“We have a number of public safety assets at our disposal here including local fire departments, regional assets, beyond the volunteers, that we can implement at a moment’s notice to execute searches,” Weeks said. “If the circumstances should change, as this remains a fluid situation, that call may go out again, but at this point we are satisfied with the resources he have on the ground here now.”
Police plan to review this weekend what search teams found in the past week, then next week proceed with searches based on leads rather than general area searches.
Weeks and Herrera thanked the hundreds of people who have come to help with the search, whether it was joining a search party or bringing food for the teams. Herrera said the family had heard of someone coming from Texas to help look for the boys.
Tanya Skelton reported her sons, who are 9, 7 and 5 years old, missing last Friday afternoon when their father, John Skelton, did not return them on time from his scheduled visitation time. Police learned Skelton had tried to hang himself in his Morenci home, and, when questioned by police, said he had given the boys to a woman to have her take them to their mother.
Police now say John Skelton lied about the woman and have charged him with three counts of parental kidnapping. He is being held at the Lucas County Jail in Toledo on a $3 million bond. He was arrested in Toledo after being released from a mental health facility there and is now fighting extradition back to Lenawee County. A hearing on his case is scheduled for Dec. 14 in Toledo.
Weeks said police have had no further contact with John Skelton, who has asked for a lawyer to represent him.
“We continue to be hopeful he will share with us the location of Andrew, Alexander and Tanner and we can move forward with a resolution to this situation,” Weeks said.
Shortly after Thursday morning’s news conference ended, more than 200 firefighters and volunteers boarded school buses to head to a 300-acre wooded area west of Pioneer, Ohio, said volunteer coordinator Steve Meller, a Morenci firefighter. Among that group was a search and rescue technician from West Virginia.
Meller said a group of firefighters was headed to search an area west of Morenci, and other groups of 11 — one firefighter and 10 volunteers — were headed out to search more roadsides, something that has been done almost every day since the boys disappeared.
“They are living on their bus today,” Meller said. The Morenci Fire Department’s ladies’ auxiliary, known as the Fire Sirens, sent the teams off with hot soup and other food for the day.
Several regional dive teams checked ponds, lakes and streams in Williams County, using sonar to probe the depths. Among the water rescue teams were those from Cambridge Township; Toledo; Jerusalem Township, Ohio; and Angola, Ind. A search dog team from Ohio Search and Recovery was also on hand. The teams would check a waterway and, upon finding nothing with the sonar, would call the command center to find out where to go next.
The roadside searches involved five people on either side of the road, spread out in 10-foot intervals, Meller said. The searchers were looking mostly in the ditches and roadsides where John Skelton is known to have traveled and would also check nearby outbuildings.
Police have asked people who live in the Morenci area to check their own property for anything unusual. Anyone who needs help with this may call the Morenci Police Department at 458-7104 to arrange for search volunteers to come look over their property.
Despite words of caution from police that a “positive outcome” to the search is not expected, Meller said, “I still think people have high hopes.”
Morenci Mayor Keith Pennington said at the news conference that he remains hopeful the boys will be found alive.
“Until I see evidence to the contrary, we’ll just continue to work toward that end,” he said.
Report courtesy of Adrian Daily Telegram