Community Searches for 3 Missing Boys

By: Rachel Thomas Email
By: Rachel Thomas Email

Planes, search dogs, and a behavioral science team have formed a search party for three missing boys from Morenci. Andrew, 9, Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5, were reported missing Friday. Their father, John Skelton, told authorities he gave the boys to a woman he's known for years, Joann Taylor, to take them back to their mother. Skelton says he and Taylor had an online relationship, but police have not been able to verify that she exists. Police say they fear the boys may be in "extreme danger."

"We're not narrowing it in on any one person. You know that's the biggest mistake we can make is put all our eggs in one basket, and focus on one person, and... miss something going by us. So we're focused on anything," said FBI Detroit Chief Andrew Arena.

Investigators are still not ruling out the boy's father. Authorities say he was hospitalized after attempting to committ suicide--just after the boys were last seen.

A search party of about 50 volunteers were out at 8 am, combing the surrounding area of Morenci. They were searching for any sign of the young Skelton boys.
" We were just looking for anything suspicious," said Karen Mepham, a morenci resident.

Volunteers were compelled to help by their parental instincts and vivide memories of the boys.

"I can't imagine what she is going through as a mother," said Mepham.

"The boys used to play football outside and ride their bikes all around," said Henry Dieplow, a Morenci resident who delivers the Skelton's morning newspaper.

After dark, the search parties quit for the night. Friends and neighbors then gathered at Morenci United Methodist Church for a candle lit vigil hoping prayer would help bring the boys home.

"Everyone came to show their support for the family... no matter what happens," said lay leader Bob Dister.

More than 200 community members or 10 percent of the Morenci population attended the vigil. Community members spoke highly of the Skelton family.

"She was a great mother. She always participated and was involved at the school," said Julia Jarrel, a Morenci resident. "Andrew's a great kid. He is always trying to use big words. He has a huge personality."

Friends and neighbors in Morenci say they'll be back out tomorrow searching.

"We'll go as long as they need us," said Mepham.

Any information regarding the missing Sketon boys or the alleged abductor, Joann Taylor, should be reported to the Morenci Police Department at 517-458-2323 or Lenawee County Dispatch at 517-263-0524.


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