Missing Skelton brothers: Mother seeks to declare 3 boys dead

The Skelton brothers

The mother of the Skelton brothers, who have been missing since 2010, is asking the court to declare them legally dead.

A pretrial hearing to declare Andrew, Alexander, and Tanner dead is scheduled for Thursday in Lenawee County Probate Court. In Michigan, a person is typically considered to be dead after they have been missing for five years. 

Tanya Zuvers filed the paperwork last December. 

"This decision came after much thought and discussion with my family and friends. It did not come lightly and was definitely a difficult decision to make. No parent wants to lose a child, but to have to have the courts step in and declare them deceased is just unfathomable," Zuvers wrote in a statement last week.

The boys, who were aged 9, 7, and 5 at the time, were last seen on Thanksgiving nearly 14 years ago. The boys spent the holiday with their father, John Skelton, in Morenci, Mich. Zuvers was supposed to pick them up from her ex-husband the next day.

John Skelton (Photo: MDOC)

However, she stopped hearing from John Skelton, so she went to his house. He wasn't home because he was at a hospital after he broke his ankle. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, he told hospital workers that he injured his ankle while trying to commit suicide.

Police were able to get into his home, where they found the house destroyed, but the boys weren't there.

John Skelton is accused of changing the story of where they were while he was at the hospital. He said they were with friends before telling investigators that the boys were given to an unknown woman. He also told police that he gave them to an underground group that would keep them safe.

According to the statement from Zuvers, John Skelton previously "claimed that the boys would hibernate until they graduate." All three boys are now old enough that they would have graduated from high school.

"At the end of the day, one person is responsible for the disappearance of my sons. That person, at one point, claimed the boys would hibernate until they graduate.  As of today, June 14, 2024, all 3 boys are over 18 and all would have graduated high school, yet they have not been returned to me and are still missing," Zuvers wrote.

John Skelton is currently in prison for unlawful imprisonment of the boys. He is scheduled to be released next year after numerous attempts to be paroled were denied.

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