MORENCI (WWJ) – It is one of Michigan’s unsolved mysteries: The 2010 disappearance of three brothers from Morenci. Now, Michigan State Police are investigating whether the remains of three kids found in Montana could be linked to the case.
A box containing the bones and teeth of three children were found in a shed behind a Missoula, Montana home in September. Although it’s unclear when the children died, testing determined the ages to be around 6-10 years old, 5-8 years old and 2-4 years old, according to Missoula police. That would just about fit the ages of the Skelton brothers when they went missing in November 2010; Andrew, Alexander and Tanner were 9, 7 and 5 years old when they last were seen.
Michigan State Police are working with Missoula police to determine if there is any connection to the brothers, even though nothing has been previously reported linking the Skeltons to Montana. Further forensic testing has been requested on the remains.
“We are working with the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children and other missing person databases to see if that’s a possibility,” said Sgt. Travis Welsh. “We don’t know where the bones came from or if maybe they were transported from one area to another and ended up here.”
While the Morenci community continues to hold out hope the brothers will be found, not everyone is pleased with the recent developments.
“It seems to me like they would have got a little further proof before they released this to the press,” resident Mark Jones told WWJ’s Charlie Langton. “I mean, let’s not get the family all tore up and the city tore up again. Let’s get a little more proof before we leak this to the press. I just can’t believe they released this this quick.”
Kevin Arquette thinks police might be jumping the gun just a bit.
“I know the family, and it’s just sad that they bring this out without having the confirmation of a positive outcome of this,” he said. “Everybody is waiting for closure and it’s just amazing to hear how they brought this (information) out without a positive ID.”
Crystal Smith, who works at the Village Inn restaurant in town, said the news feels like re-opening old wounds.
“Everybody talks about them, everybody wants them back,” she said. “But everybody now wants to know if that’s them or not.”
When the boys were reported missing, they were in the care of their father, John Skelton, who later pleaded no contest to three counts of unlawful imprisonment in September 2011. He claimed he gave the boys to unknown individuals in an effort to keep the children out of harm’s way. Claims that the mother was abusing the boys were not true, according to Tanya Skelton, who says she is heartbroken her boys were never found.
John Skelton is currently serving 10-15 years at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia.
Last year, Michigan State Police released new age-progression photos of the boys, showing what Andrew might look like at age 15, Alexander at 13, and Tanner at 11.
Anyone who has information on the case is asked to contact police at 517-636-0689 or submit a tip online at michigan.gov/michtip.