Skelton brothers: a timeline of events 2010.12.01

Written by David Green.

skel.back_door.jpgThe disappearance of the three Skelton children quickly evolved into a major investigation backed up by state and federal resources.

THURSDAY AFTERNOON—As far as police know, a neighbor of the Skeltons was the last person to see the children when they were playing outside on Thanksgiving afternoon.

FRIDAY—John Skelton alleges that he delivered the children to a woman who lives in either Hillsdale or Jackson counties. After that he had an unsuccessful suicide attempt by hanging. He called a friend who transported him to the Fulton County Health Center.

Skelton’s estranged wife, Tanya, notified the police about the failure of her children to return home from a scheduled visit.

SATURDAY MORNING—Morenci police officers began a property search at the Skelton residence at 112 E. Congress St. before daybreak Saturday morning. Officers were knocking on doors in the neighborhood and looking for clues in yards Saturday morning.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON—An FBI agent began visiting neighbors of John Skelton Saturday afternoon. Additional agents arrived later in the day, along with investigators from the Michigan State Police.

Tanya Skelton spent most of the day at the Morenci Police Station assisting FBI agents and Michigan State Police officers.

SATURDAY EVENING—Officers from several agencies converged at the Skelton residence Saturday evening and a State Police helicopter with thermal imaging equipment made several passes over the neighborhood Saturday night.

Skelton’s minivan was confiscated and towed away.

An announcement was made via fire department radio that a rescue effort would get underway at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

SUNDAY MORNING—About 230 volunteers from area fire departments and the community registered at the fire station to join search teams.

In addition to ATVs, teams of five searchers combed ditches and woods looking for evidence of the children.

The search was focused on two areas that John Skelton was known to visit: Harrison Lake State Park southeast of Fayette and an area in the vicinity of White Pine Highway and Lime Creek Road.

“We want to go slow and check every step of the way,” Morenci fire chief Chad Schisler told the volunteers. “We need to be thorough in our search.”

Additional teams of FBI agents interviewed neighbors and examined property.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON—The Michigan State Police mobile crime lab arrived at the Skelton house and officers worked inside and out before boarding up the back door and leaving the scene.

SUNDAY EVENING—Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks gave his fourth press conference at the fire hall as searchers returned to the station before dark.

The chief announced that city hall would be closed until further notice since the FBI and Michigan State Police were using the building as a command center.

The Salvation Army canteen truck and the Fulton County Red Cross, along with donations from area residents, helped feed the volunteers.

A prayer vigil at the United Methodist Church drew about 200 people.

MONDAY MORNING—Nearly 300 volunteers gathered at the fire station for a second day of searching, but they grew impatient while waiting about 90 minutes for an assignment.

After evaluating new information, the FBI directed searchers at mid-morning to travel to Williams County, Ohio, to search a campground and along roadsides.

At the morning press conference, Chief Weeks announced that John Skelton lied about his connection to Joann Taylor—the woman he earlier claimed had possession of his sons.

TUESDAY MORNING—Searches were sent to areas along Mulberry Road north of Morenci, continuing to explore areas that Skelton was known to frequent.

At the 11 a.m. news conference, Chief Weeks delivered grim news, stating that “It’s not going to be a positive outcome.”

The search for the boys through the countryside continued.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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