The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • 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.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

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.

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