Shattered: Black Friday is a 10-episode podcast investigating the disappearance of the Skelton Brothers from their home in Morenci, Michigan on Nov. 26, 2010. Episode 4 seeks out John Skelton's family in search of a new side to the story. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Stitcher, Google Play, or through the player below. If you have any information about this case call lead investigator Jeremy Brewer at (517) 636-0689. If you want to reach Jeremy and the Shattered staff email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Look at the whole story ... the whole story's not out there." -William Skelton, father of John Skelton
First off, that doesn’t really make sense. How can we look at the whole story, when the whole story isn’t out there.
But what I think William Skelton is trying to say is that the media only looked at and told Tanya’s side of the story. He might be right. Her story was everything for police. She seemed to be the only reliable source. John was questioned, but from the very beginning his stories were inconsistent. One minute he gave the boys to a woman named Joann Taylor, the next it was an underground group. Nobody trusted his words.
So I have been on a mission to track down the Skeltons – his parents, sister, aunts, uncles, anyone who could talk to that other side. I finally did make contact, with a cousin. I won’t name her, because, well, you’ll eventually understand why, but for the sake of this story we’ll call her Sarah.
I called "Sarah" on a Thursday back in July. She picked up the phone with a simple hello, but when I told her who I was and what I was doing, she lit into me with how awful the media has been – how everyone telling this story is a liar. She said nobody comes to John’s family asking for the truth. I told her, that’s what I’m doing – I’m here now – asking you. She eventually agreed to meet with me the following day, a Friday. For me, this was a huge breakthrough – being able to talk with the quote unquote "other" side. When Friday came, I hopped into a car with a photojournalist, hoping to capture the audio and video from our conversation.
As we got closer to town I called “Sarah." That’s when she backed out, but not before laying into me again. I regret not recording this phone call, but what I did was type out the parts of the conversation that I could remember immediately after I hung up. Here’s what she said:
"I decided that I don’t want to talk to you or be on the news ... Whatever ... I don’t care anymore ... The kids are hidden, or they’re gone ... Whatever ... I don’t care anymore ... You’re all just going to tell her side of the story anyway ... That’s when i interjected that my intention is to tell the whole story, meaning hers and everyone else's ... She started back up with, you’re just going to tell her (meaning tanya) her side of the story anyway ... Before she hung up on me I asked if there were any other family members in or around town that would be willing to speak with me, she said, nope, we’ve decided that we don’t want to be part of it."
That's likely why there's only one side to this story. I was dogged about trying to track down someone to talk up for John, and "Sarah" was the closest I got. The experience raised another question for me with the Skeltons.
I've read a lot about this case -- close to everything ever made public about the investigation and disappearances. The Skeltons rarely spoke, but even more glaring? Rarely did they take part in the effort to find Alexander, Andrew and Tanner. Why weren’t they central figures in the efforts to find the kids?
This is a natural thing. If you care about people, and keep in mind when I say people I’m talking about their own blood, your family, you’d think you’d want to help them. But it didn’t seem that way at all.
Whatever John told his parents seemed to be enough for them. But what did he say? Roxanne and William won't say. Their only comment? The boys are fine.
Tanya Zuvers, the Skelton brothers' mom, also plays a major role in episode 4. Below watch a video of her interview included in the episode:
About Shattered: Black Friday
Learn more about Shattered: Black Friday at: https://www.shatteredpodcast.com. If you have any information about this case please call the Morenci Police Department at (517) 458-7104. You can reach Jeremy and the staff at Shattered at: email@example.com
Shattered: Black Friday is produced and hosted by Jeremy Allen with support producer Zak Rosen, the WDIV Local 4 newsroom and Graham Media Group.
For news updates on the missing Skelton brothers and more about this podcast, follow Shattered: Black Friday on social media: