John Skelton faces life imprisonment charges 2011.03.02

Written by David Green.

skelton.3.2By DAVID GREEN

A Morenci man accused of parental kidnapping now faces charges that could lead to life in prison.

Kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment charges were added last week to an existing accusation of parental kidnapping against John Skelton, 39.

The parental kidnapping charge could result in imprisonment of one year, but the new kidnapping charge comes with the possibility of three life sentences.

Skelton faces kidnapping charges relating to the disappearance of his three sons, Andrew, 9, Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5, following a Thanksgiving visitation. Skelton failed to return the boys to their mother, Tanya, and claimed they were given to an unnamed organization.

Morenci police chief Larry Weeks doubts Skelton’s story and announced Feb. 1 that the focus of the investigation was changing from missing persons to homicide.

The new charges were to have been presented in circuit court Feb. 23, but Skelton’s public defender, John Glaser, requested a two-week adjournment for time to study the new information submitted by the Morenci Police Department.

Chief Weeks said the new reports he submitted to county prosecuting attorney Jonathan Poer led to the heightened charges.

The three kidnapping charges claim the children were restrained with the intent of taking them outside of the state. “Restrain” is defined as restricting a person’s movements or to confine the person so as to interfere with that person’s liberty without that person’s consent or without legal authority.

Volunteer search crews combed rural areas in Northwest Ohio in search of the boys after their disappearance. Information collected by police suggested Skelton may have traveled with his sons into Ohio.

The unlawful imprisonment charges, in this case, Weeks said, refer to the children being secretly confined. Those charges each carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

Glaser will study the new information and talk to Skelton for a decision on how to proceed. Circuit Court Judge Margaret Noe set March 9 as the next hearing date.

Glaser told the Adrian Daily Telegram that it is up to Skelton to decide whether to proceed with setting a trial date or to demand a preliminary examination relating to the new charges. At an examination, the prosecution would be required to present evidence supporting the new charges.

In December, Skelton waived his right to a hearing regarding the parental kidnapping charges.

Skelton is also scheduled to appear in court March 18 regarding contempt of court charges. His failure to return the children breaks the provisions of the visitation agreement with his estranged wife.

  • 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.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016