IONIA, Mich. – John Skelton, the father of three Michigan boys who disappeared more than seven years ago, spoke exclusively to Local 4 in an Ionia County prison, where he is serving time for an unlawful imprisonment charge.
Andrew, 9, Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5, vanished from Morenci while John had them on Thanksgiving 2010.
He claims he gave the boys to two women and a man in his 60s. John said the boys were going to live on a farm in Ohio along the Indiana border after he made arrangements with a group he calls the "underground sanctuary."
John said he told the boys they would have a better life with a new family who would buy them the farm boots they had been asking for and let them ride on a tractor whenever they wanted.
He became emotional while speaking to Local 4's Sandra Ali, who was not allowed to have cameras, recording devices or a notepad while she spoke to him at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility. John sobbed after he shook Sandra's hand. He told her he was so emotional because he couldn't believe he was having contact with a visitor, as she was the first person to visit him here.
John spent most of his sentence in segregation, but he was transferred to protective custody in September.
John broke down in tears three more times while the two talked about the disappearance of his children.
"I miss their voices," John said.
He described how they loved picking vegetables together, mowing the lawn and doing dishes.
John also shared details about his last night with the boys. He said that it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. He said he made the boys their favorite meal, fried chicken, and a cake to celebrate Andrew's birthday.
They all ate dinner together then watched a karate movie before bed. John said at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving, a van pulled up to take the children. He said he regrets giving the boys away.
It's still unknown where the boys are or if they are alive.