Morenci, MI

The Skelton brothers vanished 11 years ago. Their father said he gave them away to an "underground sanctuary."

Fatim Hemraj

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Tanner, Andrew, and AlexanderWBCK FM

John Skelton and Tanya Zuvers tied the knot in 2002 and settled in Morenci, a small city near the Michigan-Ohio border. The Skeltons’ had three children together: Andrew, Alexander, and Tanner. Sadly, their marriage fell apart by 2010 and in September of that year, Tanya filed for divorce.

According to Tanya, that same month John withdrew the boys from school without her consent and fled to Florida. The children were promptly returned to their mother’s care and a bitter custody battle ensued. Tanya gained full custody while John was granted visitation rights.

On November 25, 2010, Tanya dropped the boys, Andrew (9), Alexander (7), and Tanner (5), off at John’s home for a court-ordered visit. It was Thanksgiving day and sadly, it would be the last time Tanya would ever see her children; John failed to drop them off the next day as scheduled.

According to The Charley Project, When Tanya couldn’t get in touch with her estranged husband, she called the police and rushed over to his house; authorities were able to gain access and found everything inside destroyed with no sight of John or the boys. An Amber Alert was issued for the missing children and John was located hours later at a hospital in Ohio. He came in with a broken ankle after a failed attempt to take his own life. The children have never been located.

John told authorities he gave the boys to a woman named Joann Taylor. He claimed he met her online and that she was married to a pastor named Mike. Authorities believe Joann is simply a fictitious character invented by John to mislead them.

According to authorities, John later changed his story, claiming he gave the boys to an “underground group” called the United Foster Outreach and Underground Sanctuaries. He told authorities they took the boys to live on a farm near the Ohio-Indiana border; it was quickly discovered that the so-called group didn’t exist.

Authorities allege that John’s phone placed him in Holiday City, Ohio near Lazy River Campground the morning of November 26 and that his blue Dodge Caravan was seen on the Ohio Turnpike between 4:00 and 7:00 am. K9 dogs were brought to the campground back in 2010 but no evidence was found.

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John Skelton at the time of his arrest (L) next to a more recent photo (R)Made by the author | Sources: CrimeOnline & WTOL

John was charged with 3 counts of felony parental kidnapping, 3 counts of kidnapping and 3 counts of unlawful imprisonment. He pleaded no contest to the latter charge and the remaining were dropped. He was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison and is scheduled to be released in 2025.

In a 2018 interview, John stated, “I did the wrong thing for the right reasons the wrong way. And it was one of those things, at the time I was willing to pay the price, and I did.

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Age progression photos of what the Skelton brothers may look like today; Andrew at 19, Alexander at 17, and Tanner at 15LennConnect

This year's Thanksgiving will mark 11 years since the Skelton brothers disappeared. Today, they would be 19, 17, and 15. Though John insists he gave the boys away and that they are alive and safe, authorities believe otherwise. John remains the prime suspect in the case.

If you have any information regarding the disappearance of the Skelton brothers, call Michigan State Police at 517–636–0689, or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1 800–843–5678.

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