MORENCI, Mich. – The disappearance of Skelton brothers haunted the small town MorenciMichigan, for more than a decade.
It’s been 12 years since Tanner, 5, Alexander, 7, and Andrew, 9, were last seen with their father John Skeleton at his home in Morenci.
Their father had spent time with the boys over the Thanksgiving holiday amid an ongoing divorce and custody battle with their mother, Tanya Zuvers. He was to return her to her mother on Black Friday, November 26, 2010.
Police said John Skelton’s phone could be traced as he left his home in Morenci and traveled 25 miles southwest to Holiday City, Ohio. Then he returned to Morenci. Since then, the boys have not been seen.
When he didn’t bring the boys back and Zuvers couldn’t get a straight answer from him about where they were, she became concerned. She contacted the police and a yellow alert was issued.
12 years have passed since that day and the whereabouts of the boys are still unknown.
“Every once in a while we get a tip that makes a lot of sense to us,” said MSP Detective Lt. Jeremy Brewer in 2020. “We’re going to throw everything at it – all our resources. If anyone remembers anything from 10 years ago, maybe a blue Dodge Caravan over there (in the Morenci or Holiday City areas), that would be helpful. We pretty much rely on the public to have our eyes and ears on the ground.”
Father says he gave the Skelton brothers away to protect them
John Skelton said he gave the boys to an underground group to protect them from their mother. He claimed Zuvers abused the boys, she denies that allegation.
Tanya Zuvers was charged with fourth-degree criminal misconduct in the late 1990s for having sex with a 14-year-old boy. John Skelton said she abused her own sons, but she said that wasn’t true.
“Everything was investigated,” said Zuvers. “My things went through. My children come first. Always have, always will. My dream job was to be a mother and it’s the greatest job in the world. But to say I abused my sons kills me.”
Local 4 spoke to Brewer in 2020, who said John Skelton withheld important information in the case.
“It’s not like everyone hates John Skelton,” said Det. Lt. Jeremy Brewer. “We just want to find these guys.”
John Skelton in prison, denied parole
On September 15, 2011, John Skelton pleaded no-appeal to three counts of unlawful detention. He was sentenced to 10-15 years in prison.
John Skelton was denied parole in 2020 and 2022, but he may apply again next year.
“When you see three boys who were all very close, from a close-knit community, and that the last person they ever saw was their own father, and seven years later we still don’t have them, I mean , this story is quite tragic,” Brewer said in 2017.
John Skelton is being held at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan.
“I’ve always maintained that he’s not going to get his parole, but there’s always this little whiner who says, ‘But what if?’ When the letter came, it was a huge relief,” Zuvers said in 2020.
Read: Missing Skelton Brothers: John Skelton responds to human remains found in Montana
Read: New Age progress pictures of missing Skelton brothers released 10 years after their disappearance
Father claims he gave boys to the Amish group
John Skelton has claimed to have given the boys to “a group” and he has mentioned the Amish as that group.
The Amish live throughout Michigan, as well as in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. While the Amish don’t use electricity or cars, they stay informed.
Local 4 visited an Amish bakery in Camden, Michigan. An Amish woman there said she reads the newspaper every day to keep up with current events. When Local 4 spoke to her, she was 20 years old and remembered when the Skelton brothers disappeared.
“I just remember it was in the newspaper every day,” she said. “Yes, I remember that.”
She said she was unfamiliar with the claim that John Skelton left the boys with the Amish, but she said if anyone took children there, the Amish would take them in.
“I think they would call the police or something,” the Amish woman said. “They would. It’s not like they’re hiding them.”
She said the Amish communities keep in touch, and when the boys show up, everyone would know.
If the boys were alive they would be 17, 19 and 21 by now.
Anyone with information about the boys’ case or whereabouts is asked to call the Michigan State Police at 1-517-636-0689 or the NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST.
Shocked: Black Friday is a 10-episode podcast investigating the disappearance of the Skelton Brothers from their home in Morenci, Michigan on November 26, 2010. The podcast was released on February 2, 2018. You can listen to any episode for free by click here.
Read: Michigan Cold Case Coverage
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