Missing Michigan Boys Update: Hometown of Morenci Tries to Hold on to Hope

The three missing Skelton boys: Alexander, 7, Andrew, 9, and Tanner, 5. (Personal Photo)
Missing Michigan Boys Update: Father was Out of Work, Lost Custody Months Before They Disappeared
The three missing Skelton boys: Alexander, 7, Andrew, 9, and Tanner, 5. (Personal Photo)

MORENCI, Mich. (CBS/AP) Megan Nagy had kept quiet when she heard people whispering in the pizza shop where she works that the three missing brothers from the small Michigan town are dead.

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It was a Facebook post from a friend - "RIP missing Morenci boys" - that finally prompted her to respond to the rumors that the Skelton brothers, last seen on Thanksgiving, wouldn't be found alive.

"Please don't say RIP," the 19-year-old and another friend responded. "We all need to keep hope."

It's a theme being repeated throughout Morenci, where the fate of 9-year-old Andrew, 7-year-old Alexander and 5-year-old Tanner has gripped those living in and around the community of about 2,000 residents 75 miles southwest of Detroit.

Their father, John Skelton, faces three kidnapping charges, and Morenci police Chief Larry Weeks has said Skelton hasn't said much about where the boys might be.

Weeks has cautioned the public that police do not expect "a positive outcome," but Weeks also told reporters he simply refuses to believe at this point that the children were killed.

"It is my desire to maintain hope," he said.

Volunteers have fanned out each day - and will head out again for a sixth day Thursday - searching the countryside around Morenci and across the border in Ohio. Hundreds have offered their time and money, including an account set up at a local bank to take donations for the family and an anonymous donor whom police say has offered a $10,000 reward for the return or recovery of the brothers.

Skelton appeared at a hearing Wednesday in Toledo, Ohio, where he fought extradition to Michigan. The 39-year-old unemployed long-haul truck driver, sat throughout the hearing in a wheelchair, answering the judge's yes-or-no questions in a whisper.

The judge set bond at $3 million and scheduled another hearing for Dec. 14.