Three counts of kidnapping and three counts of unlawful imprisonment have been filed against John Skelton of Morenci. THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This PhotoADRIAN — The father of three missing Morenci boys is facing charges that could keep him locked up for life.
Three counts of kidnapping and three counts of unlawful imprisonment were filed recently in Lenawee County Circuit Court against John Skelton, 39, of Morenci, stemming from the Thanksgiving disappearance of his sons Andrew, 9, Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5.
Almost since the boys went missing, Mr. Skelton has been held in the Lenawee County jail on $30 million bond on three counts of parental kidnapping, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of just one year in prison and a $2,000 fine.
The new kidnapping charges are punishable by a maximum term of life in prison and a $50,000 fine, while the unlawful imprisonment charges each carry a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Lenawee County Prosecutor Jonathan Poer did not return calls seeking comment on the new charges.
Mr. Skelton’s attorney, John Glaser, could not be reached.
Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks, who announced earlier this month that investigators believed the Skelton children were homicide victims, said yesterday that he supported filing the more serious charges.
“There’s no new information from my perspective,” he said. “As law enforcement, I’m just the fact collector. I just gather the facts and turn them over to the prosecutor. Based on the information we provided him, he felt those were the appropriate charges to issue.”
Chief Weeks said evidence compiled by investigators coupled with alleged lies told by Mr. Skelton led him to conclude the boys are no longer alive and that their father is the “prime suspect” in their deaths. Their bodies have not been found.
Police are asking residents to be on the lookout for their remains as spring approaches. Chief Weeks said police have received about 1,050 tips and authorities want people to call with any information that might be helpful.
Mr. Skelton has told police different versions of what happened to his sons. In December, he told Lenawee Circuit Court Judge Margaret Noe he had given the boys to a person from an unnamed “organization” who came to his house.
“I think he’s been charged appropriately based on the crime,” Chief Weeks said.
Mr. Skelton has a hearing scheduled for March 9.
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