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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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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Six days of searching, still no clues 2010.12.08

Written by David Green.

front.searchers.2.jpgBy DAVID GREEN

The last regular news conference came Thursday morning. The citizen search parties ended Friday. Even the television trucks were thinning out as the week ended.

But the first week of the missing Skelton brothers ended much the way it began: Not a trace of the boys and not a word from the father.

John Skelton was arrested Nov. 30 and charged with parental kidnapping following the disappearance of his three sons, Andrew, Alexander and Tanner. The brothers were last seen by a neighbor on Thanksgiving Day.

Skelton told police he gave the boys to a woman named Joann Taylor before he returned home to attempt suicide by hanging. He said the suicide failed and he called a friend to transport him to the Fulton County Health Center for an ankle fracture.

From there he was transported to a mental health facility in Toledo for evaluation, and upon release, he was arrested.

He is lodged in the Lucas County Jail with a $3 million bond and is fighting extradition to Michigan. A hearing is scheduled Dec. 14.

Police eventually doubted the existence of Taylor and they announced Nov. 29 that she was no longer part of the investigation.

Search teams of area volunteers began combing the countryside Sunday, Nov. 28, the numbers swelled throughout the week until 400 and more were being bused to various locations in Lenawee, Hillsdale, Fulton and Williams counties.

Morenci police chief Larry Weeks announced Thursday that daily press conferences were ending, with no information to add, and the citizen searches would cease for the time being on Friday.

That decision was supported by the Skelton family, said Kathye Herrera, who serves as a spokesperson for the boys’ mother, Tanya.

“We support their decision to give volunteers time to recouperate and time to spend with their own families,” she said.

The searches might resume if new information arrived, Weeks said, but law enforcement officers aided by fire department members would handle search duties for the present time.

Searches continued over the weekend, Weeks said in a press release Tuesday, all with negative results. He urged people in the four-county area to search their own properties.

“I think it would be fair to say that based on the information we’ve gathered up to this point that we can continue to be hopeful that [John Skelton] will share with us the location of Andrew, Alexander and Tanner,” Weeks said Thursday, “and we can move forward to a resolution of this situation.”

Weeks said Skelton is now represented by an attorney. A visit to Skelton in prison by local clergy netted no new information.

Weeks was asked Thursday by a reporter if the case was a stalemate. Weeks said he hasn’t used that word.

“I don’t believe it’s a stalemate,” he said. “We’ll continue to speed ahead. Whatever obstacles are in our way, we’ll use whatever legal means necessary to move through them or around them and continue on.”

Vast resources

Weeks said it was obvious from early on in the case that his department could not handle the investigation alone. He’s been impressed with the quality of help sent to Morenci.

The FBI, the Michigan State Police, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Southeast Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team—these teams brought in top-notch personnel well versed in child abduction cases.

“People involved with these teams came from all over the United States,” he said.

But still, even with all of these resources plus assistance from the local law enforcement agencies, no clues have turned up.

“We’ve had well over 700 tips come in to us from throughout the country,” he said. “The information is collected and assessed and followed up on appropriately.”

Tuesday he cautioned media outlets against reporting possible sitings of the boys without reports first properly vetted by investigators to avoid the possibility of giving false hope to the Skelton family and community members.

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