ADRIAN (WWJ/AP) – A Morenci, Michigan man who insists his three young sons are alive even though they haven’t been seen since a visit to his home on Thanksgiving, was sentenced Thursday to 10 to 15 years in prison for unlawful imprisonment.
WWJ’s Ron Dewey was in court when Assistant Prosecutor Douglas Hartung scolded Skelton for not going through the proper channels in the custody dispute with the boys’ mother, which led to their disapearance.
Hartung compared Skelton to a troubled TV star.
“He approaced the media like Charlie Sheen on a drunken bender. His actions disrespect the lives of his sons,” Hartung said.
The boys, who were 9, 7 and 5 years old at the time, were last seen on Thanksgiving while visiting their father’s home in Morenci, 70 miles southwest of Detroit near the Ohio border.
The boys’ mother, Tanya Zuvers, had exclusive custody of them, but had allowed them to visit their father for the holiday. He was supposed to return them to her the next day, but he told investigators that he instead gave them to “an organization” he refused to identify.
Skelton said he only knows the first names of the people he gave them, insisting that he won’t know where they are until he is released from jail.
Investigators don’t believe him, and Noe admonished Skelton during Thursday’s hearing, saying he has deprived the family and the community of the comfort of knowing where the boys are. Skelton interrupted the judge to say: “Including myself, your Honor.”
The judge said she has given Skelton numerous opportunities to come clean about the boys’ whereabouts, and he has repeatedly failed to do so.
The judge called Skelton’s explanations “ridiculous.”
Skelton pleaded no contest to the charge in July in exchange for prosecutors dropping a parental kidnapping charge. He acknowledged that he still could face more charges in the future.
“They can still charge you with homicide,” defense lawyer John Glaser told his client in court at the time of the no contest plea, which is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.
Skelton said in a TV interview that his plea was the only way he could eventually get out from behind bars and get the boys back.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.