Searches wind down with no sign of missing Skelton brothersWritten by David Panian | | firstname.lastname@example.org
About 700 people fanned out along the Michigan-Ohio border Dec. 3, but once again returned to the Morenci fire station without finding Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton.
The last day of a week of large, organized searches took search parties to roadsides along and near Territorial Road in Hillsdale County and dive teams to small ponds and other waterways near Holiday City, Ohio, and Lake Hudson, said Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks.
Though large efforts like those of the past week are being suspended, Weeks stressed that officials want people to who live in the area to check their own property for anything out of the ordinary.
“I’m not getting reports of that,” he said. “I’d really like to hear that that’s being accomplished.”
People can let the police know if they’ve searched their property — especially if they find anything unusual — by calling the Morenci police at 458-7104.
People may also search public lands, such as local and state parks, but Weeks said they should stay off others’ private property and away from roads and traffic.
Police do not have much to go on in looking for 5-year-old Tanner, 7-year-old Alexander and 9-year-old Andrew, who have been missing since their mother, Tanya Skelton, called police Nov. 26 when their father and her estranged husband, John Skelton, failed to return them from a scheduled visitation.
John Skelton is now charged with three counts of parental kidnapping and is being held in the Lucas County Jail in Ohio on a $3 million bond. He was arrested at an Ohio mental health facility, where he was taken after he tried to kill himself by hanging.
Weeks said Skelton has asked for an attorney, so police can no longer interview him without his lawyer present.
He told police he had given the boys to a woman acquaintance to be taken to their mother, but police have determined that woman does not exist.
Skelton suffered a small fracture in an ankle when he tried to hang himself, and a friend took him to seek treatment.
Weeks would not say Friday if Skelton owns any guns. He said police have received conflicting reports on whether he is a hunter.
Skelton has not provided much useful information to police, making investigators’ work difficult.
“One (FBI) agent said it’s like looking for a needle in a stack of needles,” Weeks said. “That’s why it’s so important we get the right tip or the right lead.”
Police have received more than 700 identifiable leads called into the command post at Morenci City Hall, Weeks said. That doesn’t count many more calls that have been less useful, including some from psychics and astrologers.
With the large-scale searches called off, police will begin a review of the evidence gathered during the past week, Weeks said. They have searched John Skelton’s house and impounded his minivan, a blue 2000 Dodge Caravan.
If any leads are developed this weekend or beyond, Weeks said public safety resources are available to search specific areas. He said it is possible that police might again ask for civilian volunteers if the situation requires that kind of manpower.
Bill Foster, who has been in charge of organizing the civilian search parties since the search began Nov. 26, said there were 425 civilians who went out Friday plus 225 to 275 police, firefighters, corrections officers and other officials, both on- and off-duty. That has been typical for the week.
He said that number does not include searches organized in Ohio and Indiana.
The story of the missing boys has drawn volunteers from throughout Michigan and Ohio and as far away as Pennsylvania and Virginia, Foster said.
Article courtesy of Adrian Daily Telegram