Are Skelton brothers still alive? Michigan boys' father searched how to break a neck before they went missing

Nine-year-old Andrew, Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5, were last seen alive on November 26, 2010 in their father's backyard


                            Are Skelton brothers still alive? Michigan boys' father searched how to break a neck before they went missing
(Age-progressed composites of Andrew age 19, Alexander at age 17, and Tanner at age 15 /National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

Ten years ago, three minor Michigan brothers went missing on Thanksgiving after visiting their father, John Skelton, who is in jail for their unsolved disappearances. However, it is not yet confirmed if the boys are alive or dead, or if their father murdered them. On November 26, 2010, nine-year-old Andrew, Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5, were last seen alive playing in the backyard of their father’s home in Morenci. John and the boys’ mother Tanya Zuvers were battling a contentious divorce when the kids vanished.

At the time, the children were in the custody of their mother, but on holiday, they went to their father’s place. The brothers were reported missing by Tanya the Friday after Thanksgiving. John was then interrogated several times by investigators, who got to know he went to Holiday City, Ohio, 25 miles from his home, around the time kids were last seen. Phone records showed that the father traveled between 4:29 a.m. and 6:46 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It has been said that the police believed in that time frame, Andrew, Alexander, and Tanner were murdered or their bodies were dumped.

According to court documents, John Googled how to break a neck a week before the children went missing. He also reportedly tried to hang himself. Almost a year after the incident, in September 2011, the man was awarded 10 to 15 years in prison for the kids’ unlawful imprisonment. While this year, his parole request was denied, resulting in his incarceration for at least two more years. John has, though, not been charged with his sons’ assumed killings. In these years, the father maintained that he has not killed them, but has kept changing his story.

Once he claimed he gave the kids to a woman named Joann Taylor. But later, it was found out that he was telling a lie. After that, John said the boys are with a group of child-protective activists because he wanted them to protect from Tanya. Two years ago, he insisted that his sons were with two women and a man who planned to take them to a farm in Ohio. However, the man has not given the name of the organization where the boys are, nor anyone came forward saying they know where they are.

Court documents also provided an insight into the tumultuous custody battle between John and his ex-wife. The kids’ mother filed for divorce on September 13, 2010, and the same day John allegedly signed Alexander and Andrew out of school and they left for Jacksonville, Florida. But later, he returned the boys to their mother and visited them time to time without complications. Tanya was eventually then granted the sole custody of the brothers, but a visitation agreement was reached between the parents outside court.

Reports also said that a month before the brothers went missing, their 48-year-old filed for their custody, alleging that Tanya was a registered sex offender. The mother had pled guilty fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with a 14-year-old boy in 1998, but she denied being abusive to their sons. A decade after the boys disappeared, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has shared age-progression photos of them. “The age progressions are always the hardest for me. In my mind, I still see them as 5, 7, and 9. Their faces are etched in my mind. I just wish answers could be given…” kids’ aunt Tennille McCain said.

People have been urged to come forward if they have any information related to the boys. They have been asked to call Michigan State Police at 1-517-636-0689 or NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST.

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