Missing boys’ mother says she believes they’re alive, pleads for their returnWritten by Erik Gable | | firstname.lastname@example.org
MORENCI, Mich. — The mother of Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton said Dec. 20 she believes her boys are still alive somewhere and pleaded with anyone who might have them to return the missing boys to her.
In front of a small group of reporters this afternoon at Morenci United Methodist Church, Tanya Skelton said her intuition still tells her “that my boys are alive and that they’re with someone they know.”
“In my heart, I have as a mom not felt that my children are gone,” she said, sitting in front of photos of the boys taken during a trip to Harrison Lake State Park. “I feel they’re out there alive somewhere. I just don’t know where.”
The boys have been missing since Thanksgiving, and their father, John Skelton, is being held at the Lenawee County Jail on parental kidnapping charges. Investigators have said the information that have developed so far does not lead them to expect a positive outcome in the case, but Tanya Skelton said she still has hope.
“I have never felt that they’re not on this earth anymore,” she said.
She pleaded with anyone who might have the boys to “call 911 or take my children to the nearest police or fire station, hospital.”
“Even a fast food restaurant,” she said. “You could tell them to stay together and to go inside and say ‘we’re the three missing boys,’ and I know that my boys can do that.”
“Please bring them home,” she said. “Their mom and their sisters, their grandparents and cousins, aunts and uncles are waiting.” Tanya Skelton has two adult daughters.
Asked what she would like to say to her sons if they could hear her, Skelton tearfully replied: “I love you boys, I miss you and I want you to come home.”
Skelton described the last day she saw her sons before their disappearance.
“We were up fairly early,” she said. “They were going to spend the day with Grandpa and Grandma, my parents, and their cousin, and play all day and then their dad was going to pick them up there.”
Skelton said she felt no hesitation about sending them to their father’s house.
“They had been going with him on a regular basis, so I?wasn’t concerned about that at all.”
Skelton said she had family coming and had contacted her husband to ask about picking up the boys early. He told her that wouldn’t be possible because they weren’t home at the time, and she agreed, thinking nothing of it.
“Three o’clock came, I went to the house and he wasn’t home,” she said. “And that’s when I found out he was at the hospital.” John Skelton was taken to the hospital after a reported suicide attempt.
Skelton said she doesn’t know what to think about her husband’s statement, which he made Dec. 16 during a contempt of court hearing in the Skeltons’ divorce case, that he gave the boys to an unnamed organization.
“The first I had heard of that was in the courtroom,” she said.
However, she said she doesn’t believe his claim that he doesn’t know where the boys are now.
“I think he knows where they are,” she said.
Skelton said she has not asked to speak with her husband, but would be willing to do so if investigators thought it would help.
“If the FBI wants me to, I will, but right now, I’m doing what has been asked of me.”
Asked whether she thought John Skelton was capable of killing his sons, she shook her head and said “no.”
“The John I knew, and was in love with, would not,” she said. “That’s all I can say now.”
She said she has not spoken with any members of her husband’s family, and said she did not have a good relationship with his parents.
John Skelton’s parents have accused her of abusing the boys and said their son took them away to keep them safe. Tanya Skelton said those claims are untrue.
“I love my children,” she said. “I would give my life for my children. I have never hurt my children, nor would I ever hurt my children.”
Tanya Skelton said she doesn’t know why her husband would have taken the children, “other than to hurt me.”
“But along the way he’s hurt more than just me,” she said. “He’s hurt my family, his family. He’s hurt the whole country. He’s hurt their friends, friends who have to wonder at night where their friends are.”
She said she’s heard from one mother whose son is so afraid because of the Skelton boys’ disappearance that he has to sleep in his mother’s bed at night.
“I’m an adult, so if you want to hurt me, hurt me,” she said. “But leave my children and the other children out of it.”
Kathye Herrera, a friend of Tanya Skelton’s who has been acting as spokesperson for the family, said the boys’ disappearance has caused fear and uncertainty among many of the children who know them. She recalled a girl at church asking why a father would take his children away.
“And how do you tell a little 4-year-old?” Herrera said. “Because we don’t understand.”
Asked whether she believes she will ever forgive her husband, Tanya Skelton said: “As a Christian, eventually, yes, I will.”
With Christmas approaching, Skelton spoke fondly of past holidays with her sons, and said there will be presents under the tree for them. She said Christmas with Andrew, Alexander and Tanner is always “lots of fun.”
“My boys are full of life,” she said. “They’re all boy, and it’s loud and busy.”
She said her sons have never needed the latest, most popular toy to have fun.
“Give them a shovel, a spoon, a stick — it doesn’t matter, they’ll dig a hole with it,” she said. “And then they’ll find water and their dump trucks and the rest is history.”
Skelton said it will be a quiet, emotional holiday if the boys are still missing at the end of this week.
“I just want my boys home for Christmas,” she said.