ALEXANDER, ANDREW AND TANNER SKELTON – ENDANGERED MISSING November 26, 2010 – USMCC000160LTWH – UPDATED 11.30.2013
ALEXANDER, ANDREW AND TANNER SKELTON
Date of Birth: November 4, 2003
Height: 3’9” Weight: 45 lbs
Hair: Brown Eyes: Brown
Missing: November 26, 2010 From: Morenci, MI
Last Seen Wearing: Black Pajama Pants and a Gray Shirt
Date of Birth: November 20, 2001
Height: 4’1” Weight: 57 lbs
Hair: Brown Eyes: Brown
Missing: November 26, 2010 From: Morenci, MI
Last Seen Wearing: Brown Pajamas with Orange Trim
Date of Birth: October 20, 2005
Height: 3’6” Weight: 40 lbs
Hair: Blonde Eyes: Blue
Missing: November 26, 2010 From: Morenci, MI
Last Seen Wearing: Camouflage Pajama Pants and a Scooby-Doo Shirt
Alexander, Andrew and Tanner went missing on November 26, 2010. Their mother, Tanya Lynn Zuvers Skelton, had filed for divorce from their father, John Russell Skelton, in September 2010, and had custody of the boys. John took them for a court-ordered visitation over Thanksgiving, and never returned them. The last time that anyone besides John saw them was at 5:00 p.m. on November 25, the day before their disappearances were reported.
John stated he gave the boys to a woman named Joann Taylor, whom he had met on the internet several years before, and asked her to return them to their mother.
He said he did this because he planned to commit suicide and did not want the boys to see it. John stated Joann was married to a pastor named Mark, drove a white or silver minivan and lived in either Hillsdale, Michigan or Jackson County, Michigan. He attempted to hang himself later that day, but survived and was hospitalized, first at a general hospital, then at a psychiatric facility in Ohio.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert for the Skelton brothers, but they could find no sign of them and no indication that Joann Taylor even existed. Police say they believed the boys were in “grave danger”. They said they believed John’s story about Joann Taylor was fictitious and something else caused the Skelton boys’ disappearances.
Investigators stated they were investigating the disappearances as homicides, and John was the prime suspect. They said John’s Blue Dodge Caravan, Michigan license plates 9JQ H93, was on the Ohio Turnpike, along the Michigan-Ohio border, between 4:00 and 7:00 a.m. on November 26, and asked anyone who saw it to come forward.
Immediately following John’s release from the hospital, he was arrested and jailed under suicide watch. He was eventually extradited to Michigan and charged with three counts of felony parental kidnapping, three counts of kidnapping and three counts of false imprisonment.
At a court hearing in December 2010, he changed his story, saying his sons were in the care of “an organization” which he refused to name. He later said it was called United Foster Outreach and Underground Sanctuaries. The police believe no such group exists.
Tanya and John married in 2002, and the family was active with the United Methodist Church in Morenci. John also has one adult daughter and Tanya has two daughters from their previous marriages.
In mid-September 2010, he withdrew Andrew and Alexander from school and took them to Florida without Tanya’s permission. He told their school they were going on vacation, but also implied they wouldn’t return and the school may need to forward the children’s records. Tanya had to go to Florida and have the authorities there force John, under threat of arrest, to take the boys back to Michigan. After they got back, Tanya filed for divorce. She said she only did it to secure custody and prevent John from taking the boys out of the area again, and that she and John were in counselling with hopes of reconciliation. The children had been visiting John on a regular basis with no reported problems. John had previously worked as a long-haul truck driver, but in 2009 he was fired after he was convicted of drunk driving. He has been unemployed ever since.
The children’s parents were in the middle of a bitter custody battle at the time of their disappearances. Tanya is a registered sex offender; she plead guilty to misdemeanour fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for having a sexual relationship with a 14 year old neighbour boy in 1998, when she was 32 years old. In response to her divorce filing, John had asked the court to sever her parental rights based on her sex offender status. The judge refused to do so.
After the boys disappeared, John said he had feared Tanya was abusing them, but investigators can find no evidence of abuse. Tanya said that when she went to their former family home, where John was living at the time of the boys’ disappearances, many items inside the house had been destroyed. The house is now in foreclosure and Tanya is trying to sell it.
In July 2011, John took a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded no contest to three counts of false imprisonment. The kidnapping charges were dropped. He could have faced life in prison if convicted of the original charges. Instead he was sentenced to ten to fifteen years in prison, a term that exceeds the state sentencing guidelines. John has stated his children are still alive but will never be returned as long as their mother has custody of them. His relatives and Tanya don’t believe he would have harmed the children.
Tanya reached out to John in an effort to find what happened to her sons. She sent a letter to him, asking for a face to face meeting. Her letter went unanswered. Tanya then attempted to go through a different avenue, jail e-mail. After creating an account, she was shocked when John was the first to reach out. What he wanted to talk about though was not what Tanya had hoped to discuss.
Instead John was only interested in knowing how their divorce hearings were going, never mentioning their sons. Tanya remains persistent however and has said that she will continue to email John, just hoping that the day will come, when he begins to answer the hard questions.
A fellow inmate of John’s, Robert J. Jamison, came forward to police claiming that he knew what happened to the Skelton boys.
He had an elaborate and detailed story, which turned out to be a complete fabrication. Jamison’s story was a complete waste of time for investigators, and took resources away from the search for Alexander, Andrew and Tanner. Jamison was charged with felony of lying to police and subsequently pled guilty.
Alexander, Andrew and Tanner all attended Morceni Elementary School at the time of their disappearances; Andrew was in third grade, Alexander was in first grade and Tanner was in Kindergarten. Their case remains unsolved and foul play is suspected.
The three boys are very close and are avid soccer players and fans. Andrew loves to run with the soccer ball, Alexander is a great goalkeeper, and Tanner is usually all over the field. Whether it be a game or practice, the boys always give 100% of what they have got.
The boys love riding horses and bikes, and being outside. Their favorite food to make is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, although they are also big fans of their mother’s spaghetti tacos.
They also love to go camping with the family. Their favorite place to camp is Harrison Lake as it was the hub where the entire family could meet and camp, with all of the cousins running about, swimming, fishing, biking and playing games.
They were very active boys that made the most of each minute, each and every day. Andrew, Alex and Tanner loved their older sisters very much. Whenever one of their sisters visited they would always get their attention and say “Hey do you got any gum?” with big smiles.
Tanner is by far the story teller of the boys, with a great imagination and sense of humor. He enjoys telling stories and making those listening believe the story, after which he giggles and laughs and tell you it really didn’t happen! One time in particular that his family remembers fondly is when Tanner convinced his Papa Don that his teacher had taught him to do some kind of dance. Everyone believed him, and out of the blue he starts laughing saying “No Grandpa, I was just pulling your leg!”.
He doesn’t like tomatoes, and especially doesn’t like ketchup. He is the baby of the group and loves to be cuddled and hugged, and can get jealous quickly if anyone else is with mom. Tanner’s older sister will go and sit on their mother’s lap and say loudly enough for Tanner to hear “Awwww, I love you Mommy!”, and the little man will come running to reclaim his mother’s lap or get his sister off their mother’s lap.
Tanner loves his older brothers and looks up to them, always trying to keep up with them. His favorite game is Uno Moo, which he often plays with his family. After losing the game one time, he began cheating, thinking his family didn’t see him. After that he has always tried to cheat at any game until he wins, although he often gets caught!
Alexander “Alex” is the daredevil and adventure seeker of the group. So far he has escaped broken bones, but has been proud of the stitches his adventurous personality has resulted in from time to time. He loves riding his bike, climbing and racing. He often starts water fights with his siblings and is known to just grab the garden hose and start spraying his brothers and sisters. He is a wonderful friend to all, leaving no child he meets without a friend. Alex also has an infinity for cell phones, whether they are working or not, fake or real. He is always asking to see everyone’s cell phone and enjoys buying the fake cell phones from the store. His cell phone heaven, however, is with his Grandpa and Grandma Zuvers’. They have kept their old cell phones for Alex and his brothers to play with.
They can charge them and use the cameras, but Alex’s favorite detail, is the belt clip found on Grandpa’s phone. He hooks that onto his pants and is ready to conquer the world. He is also the one often getting into trouble, but his brothers love that about him. He loves to be around people and will often sit on his mother’s lap and watch TV, and likes to wear his glasses.
As the oldest, Andrew is very responsible and is a great student at school. He is very proud of the fact that he has had perfect attendance since Kindergarten, and I will say, that is quite impressive. When he’s not studying, he’s playing video or computer games which he has mastered! The only video game anyone can beat him at is guitar hero, and even then he fairs pretty well.
He loves to challenge people to a game. He loves to be in the know and often asks a lot of questions. His family fondly calls him the ‘National Inquirer’ as he always knows what everyone is talking about. If he isn’t sure what they’re talking about, he will simply ask. However, he can also be very quiet and timid compared to his two younger brothers. When he wants to sit on his mother’s lap, he will gently tap her on the shoulder and call her name. He is sweet, kind and sensitive, and he is a wonderful big brother to Alex and Tanner.
Police Chief Larry Weeks has made a statement saying that while he can not disclose much information, he wanted to put an end to `false hope` that the boys would be found alive. He has asked farmers and others to be on the lookout for the remains. Not only are the family and friends of these three beautiful boys grieving what is very likely the deaths of the children, but a community and nation are also taken aback, mourning the three bright souls that have very likely been snuffed out, long before their time.
While a monster may have taken their lives, he can never take their memories, nor the moments many people have shared with the Skelton brothers. Their memories will live on long after their alleged murderer`s life has ended, and the joy they injected into this world in the short time we were privileged enough to have shared it with them, will forever be their permanent footprint on our hearts.
The boys’ mother, now Tanya Zuvers, stood with family members and friends on November 25, 2012, for the unveiling of the memorial plaque created in the boys’ honour, mounted on a rock in their hometown. Tanya released a statement saying that when the boys are found, this plaque will be moved to her house if the boys are found alive, or will be a part of their headstone if the boys’ remains are located.
A $60,000.00 reward is being offered for any information leading to the recovery of the Skelton brothers.
Andrew, Alex and Tanner’s family have created a website and a FaceBook page for the boys. Please check them out at the links below and leave a comment for the family to show your support. It means the world to them to know others care about these three incredibly little man.
Andrew, Alexander and Tanner’s story is one that hits so close to home for me. The boys are the same ages as my sons, they look similar and their personalities match. They are so much like my boys, that there have been countless number of times where I had to put their case to the side for a week, because just seeing their faces left me sobbing and terrified.
My oldest and Andrew look the most alike, and my heart catches every time I look at a photo of Andrew. He and Cam share the same personality, being the older, nurturing ones that enjoy video and computer games, and have a quiet calmness about them. My middle son shares the same personality as Alex, (although he and Tanner look alike, both being the only blonde haired, blue eyed child in the group).
Christian and Alex are both fearless, never stopping and always getting as dirty as possible, but underneath they cuddle like angels. Which brings me to my youngest son and Tanner. Tanner and Creed enjoy the little brother privileges their brothers concede to them. Creed also adores his brothers, and he makes it known. He is funny and LOVES telling stories to anyone willing to listen, much like Tanner.
As a mother, and considering the closeness I feel to these boys and their family, my heart shatters at the thought that they are still not home. Tanya, I am so very sorry for the heartbreak you carry with you every day. I wish I could say something to comfort you, to make this a little easier – but we both know the truth, and that is that until your babies are back in your arms, there is no right thing to say. I wish I could hug you fiercely and tell you how incredibly strong you are. I wish I had the answers to bring the most important men in your life home. There are so many things I wish I could do, but wishing achieves nothing. So instead I want to extend to you this, for as long as your boys are not home with you, I will be right here.
I will support you in any and every way that I can and I will remind you that you are not alone. I will cry with you, laugh with you and from time to time be angry along side of you. I will not give up, I will not let Andrew, Alex and Tanner fade from public view simply because time has passed and answers are few. I will put their faces out there every single day that I wake up breathing, and I will share their story.
I will do this because as a mother, it is the only thing I know how to do. I will do this not for any personal gain, but for the sincerest, truest compulsion one mother has when reaching out to another mother who is hurting as you are. I will do this because it’s important for you to know that there are people out here, that while may seem like strangers, we still commit to you and your sons unconditionally.
You may not see our faces every day, and sometimes you may not hear our voices, but we are here, and we are willing your boys to come home with everything we have. We hold you and the boys in our hearts every single day, and we will see this through until the end. We will light our candles, and we will think of the three incredible little boys which we are lighting them for. We will keep these candles burning and we will keep the lights for Andrew, Alex and Tanner remaining constant and bright. We will light our candles as a beacon of hope, and in an effort to remind you that we are here. We will do the one thing that we here at Lighting Their Way Home do best. We will fight for Andrew, Alex and Tanner, and we will shine our lights hoping ….
To Light Their Way Home.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Alexander, Andrew and Tanner Skelton, please immediately contact the Morenci Police Department at:
The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children at: