Three young brothers from southern Michigan missing since Thanksgiving are in the custody of members of an underground sanctuary group, their jailed father says.
In a series of interviews with the Detroit Free Press, John Skelton insisted he didn't know the whereabouts of Andrew, 9; Alexander, 7; and Tanner, 5; and that he won't until he's released from the Lenawee County jail.
Skelton told the newspaper for a story published Monday that he wouldn't hurt his sons and only has the first names of the people who took them.
Police in the town near the Ohio boundary are treating the case as a homicide investigation, but Skelton has not been charged with murder. He is awaiting trial on kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment charges.
Authorities searched for the boys in Williams County, Ohio, because information from Skelton's mobile phone led them there, they said. Police have said they cannot account for his whereabouts between the afternoon of Nov. 25 and 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 26 -- around the time the boys disappeared.
Skelton said he wasn't in Ohio.
"I just want to say I wasn't there. My phone was," he said. "That morning when I woke up, it was back."
Skelton also said he didn't give his sons to the organization. He said members of the group intervened and took them.
Skelton's statements to the Free Press are variations of a story authorities have heard, Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks said. If Skelton wants his sons returned safely, he needs to work with police, the chief said.
"If he has a desire to talk, we're certainly here," Weeks said. "We want to find those boys desperately."
Hundreds of people searched for the boys after they disappeared.
A volunteer search and rescue group from Shiawassee County is set to lead another effort to look for them in the coming days.
Skelton said he will not know where his boys are until he is released. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of kidnapping.
If he never gets out of prison, he said, "then nobody will see them again."