Police: Father's Story Is Unraveling

By: Meaghan M. Norman
By: Meaghan M. Norman

An entire community: volunteers, police and fire fighters combed through woods, rest stops -- all over Morenci and parts of Ohio looking for 5-year-old Tanner Skelton, 7-year-old Alexander Skelton and 9-year-old Andrew Skelton.

Katie Henricks joined the search efforts on Monday and like everyone gathered at the Morenci Fire Department, "I want to make sure we find these boys and bring them home."

Larry McCrea was going hunting today but quickly changed his plans when he thought of his own grandchildren, "I felt a calling to come look for these little boys."

More than two hundred people who were mostly strangers to the Skelton family spent all day looking for the missing children. Some were bused by caravan to Northern Ohio and some stayed near the border in Morenci to search the Green Valley Campground.

"We're going to eave no stone unturned," said volunteer Penny Ricker who has four children of her own and felt a personal connection to the Skelton family. "Hopefully we can bring them home," said Ricker.

Police say the boys were last seen on Thursday afternoon in their father's backyard on the 100-block of Congress Street in Morenci. But the details after that are unclear as the police say they're having a hard time believing the father's story.

"We can confirm that there's no established relationship between he and Joann Taylor," said Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks.

Joann Taylor is the woman John Skelton said he met online and maintained a relationship with a few years ago. Skelton claims he gave the boys to Taylor so they wouldn't see him try to commit suicide. But police say the Joann Taylor that Skelton claims to have met -- does not exist.

"We can find a number of Joann Taylors so to say one doesn't exist is negligent. What I'm saying is a reported relationship between John Skelton and Joann Taylor does not exist," said Chief Weeks.

The Toledo Blade newspaper reportedly found Skelton's facebook page where he wrote as an update on Wednesday: "I love my wife very much. May God and Tanya forgive me."

Skelton has been admitted to a hospital in Ohio where he is being treated for mental health problems.

"How could someone do this to three innocent children?" asked volunteer Henricks.

"I hope they're alive and I hope I can find them," said McCrea.

"We're going to keep searching until we can't search anymore," said Ricker.

Police do believe the boys are in danger and have not ruled out the father as a suspect. If you have any information, even if you believe it to be minimal, call the Morenci Police Department's tip line: (517) 458-7104.

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