Skelton brothers: a timeline of events 2010.12.01

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.

  • Front.web
    NICE WORK—A spider remains at the center of a web, awaiting visitors, during a moist morning last month. The was built in front of Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
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    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.