Investigators continue sifting through tips 2010.12.22

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Not a day goes by that the Morenci Police Department fails to receive tips relating to the disappearance of Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton.

Sometimes the call is about spotting three young brothers together. Other times it might be a person claiming to be a psychic or someone who had a dream or an astrologer with charts.

In all, the FBI, Michigan State Police and Morenci Police Department have received more than 900 contacts from people trying to help solve the case.

“We continue to get a variety of tips and some suspected sightings,” said Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks. “Each of these tips is prioritized and throughly vetted. As of this time we have been unable to confirm that any of them are the Skelton boys.”

Weeks said a task force comprised of several members from the Michigan State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to work in support of the Morenci Police Department to assist with the investigation. FBI agents remain stationed in Morenci.

“Additional resources from each of these agencies have been and will continue to be called upon as needed to ensure that we swiftly respond to information as it develops,” Weeks said.

Police continue to seek any information about John Skelton’s blue 2000 Dodge Caravan, particularly early in the morning of Nov. 26. The tip line number remains 517/458-7104.

In court last week, Skelton said the children were given to a person belonging to “an organization,” but investigators have doubted information he has provided.

Reward

Chief Weeks announced earlier this month the establishment of a reward fund that was kicked off by an anonymous donor offering $10,000 for the return or recovery of the brothers.

At the Dec. 13 city council meeting, Morenci mayor Keith Pennington spoke about an effort to increase the fund.

“One way to get tips in is to offer a reward,” the mayor said. “The quickest way to find the boys is to have someone tell us where they are. I believe John knows where they are and it wouldn’t surprise me if someone else had at least a good idea where they are.”

The mayor said that if the community can raise $5,000 for fireworks, then twice that amount should be forthcoming for the reward fund.

Pennington said the first donation for the fund arrived from employees at the Montpelier, Ohio, company Powers and Sons who collected $347.

“There may be people and organizations throughout the country that want to do something,” Pennington said. “This is something everyone can participate in.”

A three-person committee of law enforcement personnel will determine whether or not to award someone making a claim. Law enforcement personnel and anyone responsible for the disappearance or harm of the Skelton boys is prohibited from receiving the reward money.

A separate three-member committee will be created for the purpose of raising awareness about the refund, Pennington said, and for promoting fund-raising events.

Additional information is available on the city website (www.cityofmorenci.org).

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