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Taken on Thanksgiving: The Disappearance of the Skelton Brothers

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, three brothers vanished from their Michigan home.

Thanksgiving Day is a time for families to come together, and be grateful for on another. On Thanksgiving Day 2010, Tanya Zuvers’ family was torn apart, when her three sons went missing. Tanner Skelton was 5, Alexander Skelton was 7, and Andrew Skelton was 9. The boys were last seen playing in their father’s backyard on November 25, 2010.

Tanya was going to pick up her kids from their father’s house, only blocks away from her house, in the town of Morenci, Michigan. John Skelton had the boys for the day, as he and his wife Tanya had filed for divorce in September of that year.

Tanya was going to pick up her kids from their father’s house, only blocks away from her house, in the town of Morenci, Michigan. John Skelton had the boys for the day, as he and his wife Tanya had filed for divorce in September of that year.

On September 13th, John picked up the boys in his van and left for Ohio without a word. He returned a few days later. A few weeks later, he took the boys to Florida: an emergency court hearing saw them returned to Michigan. After these alarming events, Tanya was granted full custody of the children.

skelton brothers
  • Photo Credit: bailbondcity.com

There were no complaints about custody for the next month, with John getting visitation rights, as well as the right to spend time with the boys for the Thanksgiving holiday for just one night.

Related: Behind Closed Doors: The Secret Life of the Knorr Family

The trouble started when the boys did not get dropped off at Tanya’s home at the agreed upon time. This prompted Tanya to call John: he didn’t respond. She checked John’s Facebook page, where she saw a cryptic status he had posted reading, “May God and Tanya forgive me.” Panicked, Tanya called John, who started giving her alarming non-answers about the boy’s whereabouts. She quickly called the police.

John told the authorities that he had given the boys to “a friend” named Joanne Taylor, whom he met online. According to John, he had attempted to hang himself, and wanted the boys out of the house when he committed suicide. He thus asked Joanne to take the boys away. John said he didn’t have a phone number or address for Joanne, and he couldn’t give a direct answer about where in the state or country she lived.

the skelton brothers
  • Photo Credit: skeltonbrothers.org

Morenci police searched John’s home. They uncovered web searches for “how to break someone’s neck” and “poisoning.” They couldn’t find anything about Joanne Taylor. They also found a few suspicious items such as bottles of bleach, stain remover, and odor remover.

An Amber Alert was issued, and the hunt for the missing brothers began. Investigators searched for anyone named Joanne Taylor, with any sort of connection to John Skelton. They found absolutely nothing—it turned out the story was made up. Skelton finally admitted his lie, only to then claim that he had given the children to “an organization”. He named a group called United Foster Outreach as well a group called Underground Sanctuaries, but no such organizations exist.

Related: The Brutal Murder Spree of John Norman Collins

John Skelton was arrested and charged with three counts of kidnapping and three counts of unlawful imprisonment. He is currently serving 10 to 15 years in prison. He has consistently maintained that he never hurt his children, and that he knows where they are. Skelton repeatedly says that he handed the boys over to “an organization,” but he keeps changing the name of the organization. Still, Skelton maintains the boys are still alive and that they are safe.

As John Skelton sits in prison, the whereabouts of his children remain unknown. The hunt for Andrew, Alexander, and Tanner continues. A plaque has been erected in Wakefield Park in the Skelton brothers’ hometown, to commemorate the vibrant boys who vanished so suddenly, six years ago.

[via: crimewatchdaily.com; wmbfnews.com]

Feature photo via the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Published on 21 Nov 2016

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