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

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

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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