Cops: 3 Boys Missing After Dad's Suicide Attempt - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Cops: 3 Boys Missing After Dad's Suicide Attempt

MORENCI, Mich. - Police were searching Sunday for three young brothers who haven't been seen since their father tried to hang himself, and investigators unraveling the man's strange story fear the boys are in grave danger.

At the heart of the investigation is a perplexing account by the father, 39-year-old John Skelton, who told investigators he'd left the boys in the care of a woman with whom he had an online relationship. Yet by late Saturday, officers had no luck finding the woman.

Skelton was being treated at a hospital in Ohio for "mental health issues" on Saturday, one day after he tried to kill himself, said Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks. Morenci is about 75 miles southwest of Detroit and just north of the Ohio state line.

Skelton told investigators Friday that he didn't want the boys in his house when he committed suicide, so he asked a woman named Joann Taylor to take them to their mother, who is separated from Skelton. Weeks said Saturday that officers haven't been able to confirm that Taylor exists.

An Amber Alert was issued Friday for Skelton's sons: 9-year-old Andrew, 7-year-old Alexander and 5-year-old Tanner.

When asked if Skelton was a suspect in the boys' disappearance, Weeks said: "We haven't ruled anything out, yet."

Skelton, who reportedly is a long-haul truck driver, said he met Taylor several years ago and that the two had been involved in an online relationship. She was believed to live in Jackson or Hillsdale counties in southern Michigan.

But officers Saturday had no success tracking down a woman by that name or the silver van Skelton said she was driving.

"The bulk of our action has been putting together a timeline and trying to locate this Joann Taylor," said Weeks, whose agency was joined in the search by Michigan State Police and the FBI.

The Detroit Free Press reported that residents of Morenci searched parks, bike trails, in hollowed-out trees and along the banks of a creek for the missing boys on Saturday.

Kathye Herrera, who is serving as a spokeswoman for the family, told the newspaper that relatives were "hoping and praying and trying to stay positive."

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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