Possible link to missing Skelton boys after child remains found in Montana

Authorities may have a major break in the mysterious disappearance of the three Skelton boys from Morenci, Mich.

Human remains discovered in Montana have now been deemed to likely be of children. Now, Michigan State Police are trying to determine if they're that of the Skelton brothers, who went missing in 2010.

Morenci, a town about 75 miles southwest of Detroit, is where the mystery began. Three boys went missing, last seen with their dad.

A box with the bones and teeth of three kids was found all the way in Missoula, Montana inside a shed in September. Cleaning crews emptying the shed following an eviction found the remains in a box. 

Thursday, a new revelation came about as testing came back -- showing the remains were of children, their ages between 2 and 4, 5 to 8 years old and 6 to 10. 

The day after Thanksgiving in 2010 the Skeltons -  Andrew, 9, Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5, were reported missing. They would never be seen again.

Their dad last had them in Morenci and said he gave them to someone, but who? Now he is doing prison time.

The new discovery could bring closure to a small town that has been through so much.

"It's been so long every year," said resident Jeanne Hinkley. "We have vigils, and everyone has the stickers on their houses, on our cars. I hope at this point it is just some kind of closure."

The Skelton family released a statement regarding the news out of Montana:

"This information has just been presented to our family within the last several hours. We are processing it and hopeful that we will have answers soon. We are thankful for all your thoughts and prayers. 

"Faith - hope - love."

There has nothing been previously reported to police linking with the missing boys and Montana. There is also no proof the remains are related. More forensic testing will hopefully provide some answers.

Michigan State Police released a statement: 

"On Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, the Michigan State Police (MSP) First District Special Investigation Section learned that human remains were found in Montana in September, that were recently determined to likely be the skeletal remains of three children. 

MSP investigators are working with Missoula police to determine if there is any connection to Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton who were reported missing from Morenci in Lenawee County the day after Thanksgiving in 2010. There has been nothing previously reported to police linking the brothers to Montana, and it is not known at this time if the remains are from related siblings.

Further forensic testing has been requested by police in Montana that may provide more answers. Until this testing is completed and additional investigation by law enforcement in Montana occurs, it cannot be determined if these remains belong to the missing Skelton brothers.

"In the years since the Skelton brothers disappeared, their vanishing has been vigorously investigated by the Morenci Police Department, FBI and MSP. Significant assistance has also been provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"In 2013, the MSP became the lead investigating agency. New age-progression photos of the three brothers were released in November 2016.

"At the time the boys went missing they were in the care of their father, John Skelton. Skelton pleaded no contest to three counts of unlawful imprisonment in September 2011, after he claimed he gave the boys to unknown individuals. Skelton is currently serving a 10-15-year prison sentence.

"The public is asked to provide any tips or information to the MSP at www.michigan.gov/michtip or by calling 517-636-0689."