MORENCI -- Five days into the massive search, and still no sign of the three Skelton brothers.
"I refuse to believe that [they're dead]," said Police Chief Larry Weeks on Wednesday. "It is my desire to maintain hope."
But his department suggested Wednesday the search for 9-year-old Andrew, 7-year-old Alexander and 5-year-old Tanner Skelton is shifting from rescue to recovery.
"As I said yesterday, the information that we have would not indicate that this is gonna have a positive outcome," Weeks said.
This as the boys' father, John Skelton, awaits an extradition hearing in Ohio on December 14th. He appeared in court there Wednesday to say he'd fight his extradition back to Lenawee county on charges of kidnapping.
The 39-year-old tried to commit suicide last Friday, the day after the boys were last seen, telling authorities he left them with a woman he met on the Internet. Police have since said that woman, a so-called Joann Taylor, doesn't exist.
As of Friday, meanwhile, police say they'll be sending the hundreds of volunteers who've shown up here home -- to give authorities the weekend to decide how to move forward.
"One of the things that people can transition into from volunteering is searching their own properties," Weeks said.
But residents here say they haven't lost hope. Hundreds mushed through a light coating of snow and freezing temperatures Wednesday, as they have for five days now, saying they feel it's their duty.
"If it were one of my grandkids or one of my kids, I'd want some help, too," one volunteer said.
And desperately hoping for a holiday miracle.
"I'd love to find these kids alive," another said. "They're not giving us a lot of hope, but there's always hope."
The rest of this sleepy town of about 2,000 people has come to a virtual standstill to focus on finding the Skelton brothers. City Hall is closed through the weekend, and literally hundreds of new volunteers show up here every day.