Imprisoned John Skelton, whose sons are missing, denied parole

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A Morenci man whose sons have been missing for almost 12 years will spend at least another year in prison.

A Michigan Department of Corrections parole board has denied John Russell Skelton, 51, parole last week and gave him a 12-month continuance, which is the longest denial he can be given under state law, corrections department spokesman Chris Gautz said in an email Friday. He will be up again for consideration for parole next year.

John Russell Skelton
John Russell Skelton

The longest Skelton will stay in prison is until Nov. 29, 2025, Gautz said.

Skelton is serving a a 10- to 15-year sentence on three counts of unlawful imprisonment. He pleaded no contest to the counts in 2011. His sons — Andrew, Alexander and Tanner — have been missing since Thanksgiving weekend 2010. He is incarcerated at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia.

Andrew Skelton, age progression to 19 years.
Andrew Skelton, age progression to 19 years.
Alexander Skelton, age progression to 17 years.
Alexander Skelton, age progression to 17 years.
Tanner Skelton, age progression to 15 years.
Tanner Skelton, age progression to 15 years.

The brothers disappeared while with their father during a scheduled visitation. Their parents were separated and in the process of a divorce. Their mother, Tanya Zuvers, contacted police when they weren't returned to her at the end of the visitation. The case gained national attention as volunteers searched for about a week through woods, fields and ponds in the region, looking for any sign of the boys, who were 9, 7 and 5 years old at the time.

Skelton claimed he gave the boys to an underground organization to protect them from abuse. Others, including former Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks and Zuvers, believe they are dead.

Tanner, Andrew and Alexander Skelton are pictured as they looked when they went missing at Thanksgiving 2010.
Tanner, Andrew and Alexander Skelton are pictured as they looked when they went missing at Thanksgiving 2010.

About a year ago, Skelton declined to have a parole hearing.

A parole hearing takes place between a parole board member and the prisoner. The board member takes notes and reports back to a second parole board member. If they both agree the individual should not be released, the person remains incarcerated. If the two are split, a third board member breaks the tie, Gautz explained in 2020 at the time of Skelton's first hearing, when he was denied parole.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Telegram: John Skelton, whose sons are missing, denied parole