Missing Boys' Dad Faces Kidnapping Charges
Skelton Arraigned On Parental Kidnapping Charges
The father of three boys missing since Thanksgiving was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on parental kidnapping charges.
John Skelton waived his right to an extradition hearing on Tuesday and was promptly processed and driven away to face charges across the state border in Michigan.
Skelton, 39, had been fighting extradition on three charges of parental kidnapping in the disappearance of his sons Andrew, 9, Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5. But during a Tuesday morning hearing in Toledo he agreed to his return to his home state.
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Skelton's $30 million bond was extended as a condition of his extradition.
Within an hour of the hearing's end, Skelton was driven off by Morenci, Mich., Police Chief Larry Weeks and another officer.
Skelton's attorney, Merle Dech, would not say why Skelton decided to stop fighting extradition.
The unemployed long-haul truck driver was arrested on Nov. 30 on three counts of parental kidnapping.
His three sons were last seen Thanksgiving Day in Morenci and reported missing the following day by their mother, Tanya Skelton, when their father didn't bring them home after an arranged visit.
Tanya Skelton, 44, filed for divorce in September. A judge gave her custody of the boys, but she and John Skelton reached an agreement on visitation.
But according to police reports obtained by Local 4, John Skelton threatened to take his sons to Florida in September and suggested they might not return.
READ DOCUMENTS: Skelton Police Reports
The report states Tanya Skelton called police after she received a phone call from the elementary school the boys attended, telling her John Skelton had signed them out of class and that he indicated he was taking them to Florida. She told police she had no idea he was taking them out of state.
Police said the couple was able to talk things over and returned the boys to their mother.
Volunteers spent a week searching the countryside around Morenci and across the border in Ohio. Hundreds have offered their time and money, including an account set up at a local bank to take donations for the family and an anonymous donor whom police say has offered a $10,000 reward for the return or recovery of the brothers.
During an interview with Local 4, John Skelton?s parents, William and Roxanne Skelton, said their son told them during a jail visit that he only had one message to give: that the boys were OK.
"(John) said to tell you that his boys are safe and sound," Roxanne Skelton said.
William Skelton said after talking to his son he believes his grandsons are safe with someone. He said he thinks his son did the right thing, but maybe not in the right way.
Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks said the father initially told them he gave the boys to a woman he met online and had been having a relationship with. John Skelton told police he asked the woman, Joann Taylor, to take the boys to their mother.
But Weeks said investigators have not been able to find Taylor and they do not believe Skelton and Taylor had a relationship. Police also have not located the van Taylor was reportedly driving.
Two people have reported seeing the boys in Ohio.
Sandy Jones works at the House of Donuts in Sandusky, Ohio, and said she remembers seeing a woman with three young boys in the store the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving.
?The woman looked weird. She had short dark brown hair that looked like it had just been dyed. It was really wiry. She looked up one time when she first came through the door,? Jones said. ?She wasn?t saying a lot but was kind of pushing the boys to the door.?
She said the boys stayed closed to each other and were quiet.
?They didn?t say anything and she never made eye contact with me. It was just really a weird thing,? Jones said. ?The boy?s didn?t really want to pick out their doughnuts. So, she just said, ?They want glazed.? And I said, ?Glazed? That?s all you guys want? And they just looked at me and didn?t say anything. The little one wanted sprinkles.?
Jones said the woman looked to be in her 40s, looked uneasy and called one of the boys Tanner.
Jones said she didn?t think much of the group until she saw the boys? pictures on a news report and found out one of them was named Tanner.
Weeks said his staff is aware of several leads but is cautioning against jumping to any conclusion.
"We have received many similar leads from throughout our region and continue to collect that information and assess the credibility of each one," Weeks said.
A former Morenci school teacher told police she may have seen the missing brothers from Morenci at a flea market in Ohio.
According to sources, the retired music teacher said she was at a flea market in Bowling Green, Ohio, when she spotted the boys with an unidentified woman.
The retired teacher said she did not approached the boys, but she believes it was Andrew, Alexander, and Tanner Skelton, because she once taught one of the boys in her class.
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