FBI: Planes, dogs, psych experts seek 3 Mich. boys

MORENCI, Mich. (AP) — FBI behavioral science experts, two planes, search dogs, and numerous police and volunteers hunted Sunday for three southern Michigan boys who went missing on the same day their father tried to hang himself.

Police in Morenci have said they fear the boys are in “extreme danger,” and the father hasn’t been ruled out as a suspect.

The father, John Skelton, 39, was being treated at a hospital in Ohio for “mental health issues” after he attempted suicide Friday, Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks said Sunday.

Authorities were searching Sunday for 9-year-old Andrew, 7-year-old Alexander and 5-year-old Tanner. They also were looking for Joann Taylor, a woman their father claims to have given the boys to before his suicide attempt. However, officials haven’t been able to confirm the woman even exists.

Weeks said the boys were last seen Thursday. Their mother, Tanya Skelton, reported them missing Friday, and police issued an Amber Alert.

The weekend search for them extended to an Ohio state park just south of the Michigan state line, a dispatcher with the sheriff’s office in Fulton County, Ohio, told The Associated Press.

“I know my son, he’s not a monster,” John Skelton’s mother, Roxann Skelton of Jacksonville, Fla., told the Detroit Free Press. “He’s a good son and he would not harm his boys. I know those children are, you know, still with us.”

She didn’t immediately return a phone message the AP left for her Sunday.

When asked if Skelton was a suspect in his sons’ disappearance, Weeks said: “We haven’t ruled anything out, yet.”

Skelton, who lives in Morenci, about 75 miles southwest of Detroit and just north of the Ohio state line, is separated from Tanya Skelton and had been caring for his sons.

He told investigators Friday he wanted the boys out of his house when he committed suicide and that he had asked Taylor to take them to their mother.

Skelton said he met Taylor several years ago and that the two had been involved in an online relationship. She was believed to live in Jackson or Hillsdale counties in southern Michigan.

But officers have had no success tracking down a woman by that name or the silver van Skelton said she was driving.

“The bulk of our action has been putting together a timeline and trying to locate this Joann Taylor,” Weeks said on Saturday.

Michigan State Police also are aiding the search. Family and friends of the missing boys held a vigil Sunday night at Morenci United Methodist Church.

The FBI got involved Friday, shortly after being contacted by Michigan authorities, said Andrew Arena, head of the agency’s Detroit office.

“As long as there’s an Amber Alert or an abduction, we get called in,“ Arena told the AP on Sunday.

Volunteer searcher Jeff Glore, 43, of Adrian who has a 5-week-old child, said he showed up to aid the search for the missing boys because he was “torn up by the story.”

“I just have a heart for children,” Glore told The Detroit News. “I don’t think this town knows what to do.”

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Associated Press writers Jeannie Nuss in Columbus, Ohio, and David N. Goodman in Detroit contributed to this story.

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