The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Search continues for missing Skelton brothers 2010.12.01

Written by David Green.

skel.cameras.s.jpgBy DAVID GREEN

May God and Tanya forgive me...

Wednesday, Nov. 24, Facebook

That was John Skelton’s Facebook message to the world two days before he unsuccessfully tried to hang himself. It was also two days before the disappearance of his three children—Andrew, 9; Alexander, 7; and Tanner, 5.

After Skelton’s wife, Tanya, reported to police Friday that her three boys failed to return home following a scheduled visit to John Skelton’s home on East Congress Street in Morenci—the couple is separated and seeking divorce—an investigation began with Morenci police officers searching the neighborhood and speaking with neighbors.

Personnel from the Michigan State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation soon arrived in town and by Sunday, the disappearance of Morenci’s Skelton children became the most-read story on CNN.

Family troubles

Skelton, 39-year-old truck driver, had been unemployed for several weeks when he unexpectedly drove to Florida with two of his children.

The Skeltons’ marital situation had been troubled before that time, said Kathye Herrera, who is serving as a spokesperson for the Tanya, but the Florida trip was the turning point in their relationship.

After Skelton was convinced to return home with the children, Tanya moved out of the Congress Street home and obtained custody of the boys.

A neighbor who wishes to remain unidentified recalls seeing walk the boys to church on Sunday mornings and said his demeanor had changed.

“He looked sheepish and defeated,” he said. “It wasn’t his usual appearance.”

On Halloween night, Skelton watched his children go trick-or-treating, telling the neighbor that he wasn’t allowed to go with them.

“He talked for quite a while and was really despondent,” the neighbor said. “He really wanted to be with his kids. He said he loved Tanya and wanted to get back together.”

In a few days, Skelton said, he would find out if he was going for counseling or to divorce court.

Tanya stayed with her plans to seek a divorce and the couple eventually agreed upon informal visitation rights. That agreement included Skelton’s time with the children on Thanksgiving Day and Friday.

A neighbor saw the children playing the yard about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, but that was the last sighting of which police are aware.

Mystery woman

On Friday afternoon, Skelton was unsuccessful in a suicide attempt. He injured an ankle while trying to hang himself and called a friend for transportation to the Fulton County Health Center in Wauseon. Skelton was treated and transferred to a mental health facility in Toledo for psychiatric observation.

He told law enforcement officers that he delivered his children to a woman named Joann Taylor earlier that day. He said her met her during an auto break-down and maintained contact with the woman.

Taylor was to deliver the boys back to Tanya Friday afternoon so they wouldn’t be present when he killed himself. The boys never came home and police questioned whether there was any truth to the Taylor story.

Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks stated in a press conference Saturday evening that officers were unable to locate a Joann Taylor or to confirm that she exists. Eventually Skelton’s story fell apart and Monday morning Weeks told reporters Taylor was no longer part of the investigation.

“At this point we have been able to eliminate the reported established relationship between Joann Taylor and Mr. Skelton.”

Search begins

Search parties combed Wakefield Park and walked along Bean Creek into Riverside Nature Area Saturday afternoon looking for signs of the boys. Sunday the search widened to include an area northwest of Morenci and at Harrison Lake State Park. On Monday, the FBI sent search teams to areas near Kunkle and Holiday City, Ohio, and again into Michigan Tuesday morning.

Weeks stated Tuesday morning that Skelton has been forthcoming with some information, although police were not able to verify the credibility.

“We have searched a number of locations from all sorts of resources, including sources from him,” Weeks said.

 The search continued Tuesday, based on tips and locations Skelton had frequented.

Weeks cast a pallor on the conference  when he stated, “We continue to talk to all parties involved in this investigation, including Mr. Skelton. Statements he’s made to investigators indicate it’s not going to be a positive outcome.”

At the Morenci Methodist Church service Sunday, Herrera said she could visualize the boys’ faces at the front of the church during the children’s sermon.

“They always wanted to answer questions,” she said. “That’s the thing that keeps us going—remembering their faces and some of the silly things they did.”

Alexander, 7, claimed to have a girlfriend at school and she made a card for her friend. She delivered it to his house and asked that it be given to him.

It read, “Welcome home. I miss you.”

“I think that helped Tanya,” Herrera said. “She knows her boys are missed by a lot of people beyond the family.”

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