Break in Skelton case? MI police reach out to Montana authorities about unidentified remains

Break in Skelton case? MI police reach out to Montana authorities about unidentified remains

MORENCI, MI (WTOL) - One of the most infamous cold cases in Michigan history, and one that has transfixed the local community for years, may have new life.

Michigan State Police reached out to police in Missoula, Montana on whether the remains of three children found in a box in a shed in the town may be those of the Skelton brothers.

"It might be a tragic ending. And I think the more and more the time goes by, the people are facing that reality. It would be a very tough day if we have to go to the community, especially if we have to go to the family and maybe tell them a very sad story about what we think happened," said Det. Lt. Jeremy Brewer of Michigan State Police. "But I also know at that point, they can try to begin to put some pieces back together. Any type of closure is better than where they are at now, so we just hope one day we can do that for them."

The three brothers from Morenci, Michigan went missing in November of 2010.

According to MTN News, a cleaning crew discovered the remains in September.

Police obtained a search warrant and began an investigation. Sgt. Travis Welsh said police found loose teeth and what appeared to be a bone from a lower jaw, among other bones and rocks inside the box.

Police say they have a person of interest, though the person is not being considered as a suspect.

The test results from those remains were given to the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children database.

Det. Lt. Jeremy Brewer of Michigan State Police is lead investigator on the Skelton case. He was forwarded an article late Wednesday night about the remains. That's when Michigan State Police reached out to Missoula, Montana.

The boys' mother Tanya Zuvers responded to the news on Facebook on Thursday evening.

MTN News reports a University of Montana Anthropology professor confirmed the remains belonged to three children under the age of 10-years-old.

Now police are piecing together the identity of the boys and where they may have come from.

Police say there was no evidence of a crime at the scene where the bodies were found.

The bodies are now at the University of North Texas to be analyzed.

Police say they will not be able to determine the identities of the remains until further forensic testing and additional investigation is completed.

They say there has been nothing previously linking the brothers to Montana. However, the DNA in the remains will be compared with dental records of Andrew, Alex and Tanner Skelton.

History of the Skelton brothers case

The Skelton brothers - Andrew, Alex and Tanner - disappeared during a Thanksgiving visitation in 2010 after their father, John Skelton, claims to have given the boys to an unknown group of people.

In 2011, Skelton pleaded no contest after being charged in their disappearance. He is currently behind bars for unlawful imprisonment.

The case galvanized the community for years, as the boys' mother, Tanya Zuvers, remained committed to keeping their memories and the case alive.

Zuvers divorced John Skelton in June 2011.

As recently as November 2015, a vigil was held for the boys.

In December of 2016, new age-enhanced photos were released of the boys.

Since their disappearance, Michigan authorities received more than 2,000 tips involving the missing children, but police still have not real connection.

"When a headline reads that the Skelton boys might be found, well that's our hope obviously. And we would love that closure for the family, and the community, and for us as law enforcement," Det. Lt. Brewer said. "But that's truly not, the nature of what we are looking at. It is a strong tip. We are looking into it, but we have really developed no true connection with this area in Montana and our Skelton case here in Michigan."

Anyone with information about the boys' disappearance is asked to contact the Michigan State Police online or by calling 517-636-0689.

Stay with WTOL as we learn more from this story.

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