IONIA, Mich. – More than seven years after three Morenci boys disappeared, their father maintains that he gave them away, but says he would have done things differently if given the chance.
John Skelton said that he gave his sons to an underground group to get them away from their mother, Tanya, who he claims was abusive. Andrew, 9, Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5, have been missing since the day after Thanksgiving in 2010.
Recently, John said that if he could go back in time, he would have done things differently and he would have told his parents more about the people to whom he was allegedly giving his sons to.
"I would have let more people know my evidence, my contacts, you know, any evidence whatsoever. I wouldn't have burnt that. I would have gotten my parents involved and asked them if I really should do this," John said. "I would have done a lot of things differently, I suppose."
John said his parents told him they would come pick him up and take him to Florida, where they live, and he could live there without the boys. However, he said they demanded an answer by the day before Thanksgiving and it made him anxious.
"There was a plan and it made me feel anxious, anxiety, or I felt like that was not the thing to do," he said.
He said he felt like he was running out of time and options.
"I wasn't going to leave my kids," John said. "I did the wrong thing for the right reasons the wrong way. And it was one of those things, at the time I was willing to pay the price, and I did."
While John said he would change things, he didn't say whether or not he would give his sons again.
He also that he still loves Tanya and that he didn't intend to hurt her.
"I didn't do anything to try to hurt Tanya. I still love Tanya. It was my mom who said I had to stop saying that," John said.
He said that he doesn't know why his mom told him to stop saying it.
John also reiterated that the boys are safe with the group he gave them to, and if he were to be told they hurt his sons, he would hurt the people in the group.
"If I found out, I would end up back in here. I would hurt them," he said.
John said he has given police all of the information he has. He plans on getting out of prison, where he is serving time for unlawful imprisonment, in November 2025, but he said he believes police will find a way to keep him behind bars.