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Published: Thursday, 11/21/2013 - Updated: 9 months ago

MICHIGAN BOYS MISSING SINCE 2010

Case assigned to state police to investigate

Morenci chief cites limited budget, staff to continue case

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A missing-persons poster issued a year ago that shows age-progression portraits of Andrew, left, Alexander, and Tanner Skelton. A missing-persons poster issued a year ago that shows age-progression portraits of Andrew, left, Alexander, and Tanner Skelton.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

MORENCI, Mich. — The investigation into the disappearance of Andrew, Alexander, and Tanner Skelton has been handed over to Michigan State Police, however Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks said his department will remain active in the case.

Michigan State Police announced this week that they have taken over as the lead agency into the 2010 Thanksgiving disappearance of the boys, who were last seen Nov. 26 at their father’s home in Morenci near the Michigan-Ohio border.

Chief Weeks said the change in leadership was a transitional move designed to take advantage of the state police’s expertise in spearheading investigations.

“The people involved in the case will not change,” he said on Wednesday.

Since the boys vanished, state police and the FBI have been investigative partners with the Morenci police department on collecting information and following up on leads.

However, Chief Weeks said the budget for police operations has shrunk while requests to provide services for residents has increased, and he doesn’t have the staff needed to give the unsolved case the attention it deserves.

“With the Morenci police department being a small agency and very limited in resources and abilities, it only makes sense for the case to be in the hands of the state police who have more resources and abilities to carry it forward,” Chief Weeks said.

John Skelton, 42, father of the missing Skelton brothers, is locked up in the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia, Mich., for convictions on unlawful imprisonment. The earliest that he could be released from prison is 2020.

Detective 1st Lt. Sean Furlong of the the state police’s First District Special Investigation in Lansing said the search for the boys remains a high priority.

“This case is one of the most significant unsolved cases in Michigan,” Lieutenant Furlong said in a statement. “Having the case at the MSP will ensure it receives the continued attention it deserves.”

The missing brothers’ mother Tanya Zuvers said she welcomes the attention that the state police can devote to the case.

“I feel that it is a good thing,” Ms. Zuvers said. “I feel comfortable that there may be a new set of eyes that will see information. Maybe they will see something that has been missed.”

Mrs. Zuvers still has hope that her sons are alive.

“I have to do that. Yes. I have days that I know realistically they could not possibly be alive yet. But on most days I feel confident that they will come home alive and well,” she said.

This year, unlike in past years, there will be no community commemorations of the anniversary of the boys’ disappearance. She said she plans to honor her sons privately with her parents, sisters, two daughters, granddaughter, and grandson, by sharing memories and photos.

“It will be something quiet as a family. I am just not doing something big this year. I am taking a little break and will just observe it quietly,” she said.

Ms. Zuvers said the month of November and holiday is a difficult time for her. Andrew’s 12th birthday was Wednesday. Alexander turned 10 on Nov. 4 and Tanner had his 8th birthday in October.

“It’s been a tough month and probably the next month is going to be difficult because it is Christmas time and the boys are not here,”she said.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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