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.

  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • 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.

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