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Amber Alert: Three Michigan Boys Missing After Father Attempts Suicide

Amber Alert: Three Michigan Boys Missing After Father Attempts Sucide
The three missing Skelton boys: Alexander, 7, Andrew, 9, and Tanner, 5. (Personal Photo)

MORENCI, Mich. (CBS/AP) Police in Michigan and the FBI are searching for three boys who have been missing since Friday. Their father had attempted to commit suicide, and claims a female acquaintance was watching the children.

But who that woman is, and where the children are, remains a mystery.

PICTURES: Missing Children, Where are They?

Police in Morenci, about 75 miles southwest of Detroit, said they fear the boys are in "extreme danger."

Andrew Skelton, 9, and his brothers Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5 were last seen on Thanksgiving during a court-ordered visitation with their father. John Skelton said he sent them to be with a friend, and posted the following message on Facebook: "I love my wife very much, may God and Tanya forgive me." He then tried to hang himself at his home on Friday.

The 39-year-old Skelton, was being treated at a hospital in Ohio for "mental health issues" after he attempted suicide Friday, Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks said. When asked if Skelton was a suspect in his sons' disappearance, Weeks said: "We haven't ruled anything out yet."

When the attempt failed, Skelton called an acquaintance and was taken to a local hospital, but the three boys' whereabouts are unknown.

FBI child abduction teams, along with behavioral science experts, joined numerous police and volunteers to search fields, farmland and wooded areas late into the night Sunday. They expected to resume their work Monday.

Authorities said John Skelton claimed to have given the boys to a female friend, but officials haven't been able to confirm whether the woman exists.

The weekend search for the boys extended to an Ohio state park just south of the Michigan state line, according to the sheriff's office in Fulton County, Ohio. The FBI got involved Friday, shortly after being contacted by Michigan authorities, said Andrew Arena, head of the agency's Detroit office.

Authorities said John Skelton told investigators Friday that he wanted the boys out of his house when he committed suicide, and asked a woman named Joann Taylor to take them to their mother. Skelton claimed that he met Taylor several years ago and that the two had been involved in an online relationship.

But officers haven't been able to find a woman by that name or the silver van that Skelton said she was driving.

John Skelton's mother, Roxann Skelton of Jacksonville, Fla., told the Detroit Free Press that her son wouldn't hurt his children.

"I know my son, he's not a monster," she told the newspaper. "He's a good son and he would not harm his boys. I know those children are, you know, still with us."