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NANCY GRACE

Nancy Grace Mysteries -- The Skelton Brothers

Aired December 21, 2012 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prayers tonight for Andrew, Alex and Tanner, the three Skelton brothers police say remain in grave danger the longer they go missing. No one has seen them since Thanksgiving, and everyone here is praying they are out there somewhere and safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need calls. We need tips. Anything that`s out there, no matter how incredible you may think it is, call.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think having the community there to support has made all the difference in the world to the family, knowing that these people care and they`re out there looking and doing everything they can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know if you`re aware of the number of phone calls and things that are coming from around the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY GRACE, HOST: When I hear the name John Skelton, it still to this day sends a chill down my back. John Skelton had three beautiful little boys. They were aged, I believe, 9, 7 and 5. They`ve never been seen alive again since they were last with their father.

Their father, John Skelton, has come up with so many different stories about what happened to his children. But one of the most intriguing and unbelievable stories that he came up with is that he had taken the three little boys -- again, ages 9, 7 and 5 -- from the mother. He did not have a right to visitation, but the mom relented and let him see his children over the holiday. She never saw them again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the boys` father, John Skelton. His sons were last in his care Thanksgiving day. Out of work, separated and, a neighbor says, depressed, he tried to hang himself Friday and told police he wanted his boys out of his home when he did it, so he gave them to a woman he has an e-mail relationship with, even though their mother was just a block away, police and now even the FBI unable to find that woman or confirm if she exists. Bottom line, they don`t know what`s happened to the boys.

JOHN SKELTON, SUSPECT IN CHILDREN`S DISAPPEARANCE: Just because people are saying there`s (INAUDIBLE) murder investigation does not mean that they -- that the boys are dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only on 7, a jailhouse interview with John Skelton after he learns that Morenci`s police chief is investigating his sons` disappearance as murder.

Why do you think they`ve switched this to a murder investigation? What do you think leads them to believe that your kids are dead?

SKELTON: Because there`s nobody to corroborate seeing (INAUDIBLE). There`s no pictures of these people. We covered our tracks (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Skelton, who last saw the boys alive here on Thanksgiving at his home in Morenci, tells Action News he gave his sons to a group called Underground Sanctuary. He says it was to protect them from his wife, Tanya.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: One of the stories Skelton came up with is that he gave his children, handed his three boys over to an underground sanctuary. Because he did not want the children to be raised by their mother, he thought it better to hand them off to strangers that would protect the boys, and that upon their graduation from high school -- as he said, their hibernation -- they would re-emerge.

Now, as kooky as that sounds, some people may be prone to believe it until they learn that he also gave several other stories about what happened to his children.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SKELTON: She wouldn`t talk to me about it or anything and alienated me and started -- started to alienate the kids from me and stuff. And I have to go with -- you know, I don`t think my kids would lie to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police have cleared Tanya of any wrongdoing in this case, and even as John makes these accusations against his estranged wife, John says he wants to talk to her.

Have you tried talking to her?

SKELTON: No. She hasn`t talked to me since the 26th of November. I wish she would. I wish she would.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you tell her if she talked to you?

SKELTON: Just stop treating me this way because I didn`t do anything wrong. I was trying to find a way to get people to talk to me, to get her to talk to me, to get to the bottom of what the boys had said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As for this ominous Facebook post the night before the disappearance of his sons, John says he was simply upset.

You posted something on your Facebook the night that the kids went missing. You said, "May God and Tanya forgive me." That was the night before the kids disappeared. What did you mean by that?

SKELTON: I was just -- I was -- I was spiraling -- I was spiraling out of control. Tanya -- I was depressed. Tanya played with my emotions to get the reaction that (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: He said that he handed them off to a female friend, that he gave them to somebody in a van, that he wrapped each one of the boys up in a blanket with a stuffed animal before he sent them off in the van. He`s told so many different stories about what happened to his children that none of them can now be believed.

All of the evidence must be viewed in context of what was found in the search of his home. Then 39-year-old John Skelton`s home was a treasure trove of evidence. In the home was found a noose, a bullet, a list of cleaning supplies, a computer search of neck-breaking and poisoning.

Not only that, we learned that he takes his little boys` toothbrushes -- little 5-year-old Tanner, 7-year-old Alexander, 9-year-old Andrew`s toothbrushes and their winter coats -- two things that any mother would know their sons needed, their toothbrush and their winter coats -- and gives them to an aunt and tells her that the boys won`t need them and he does not want his ex-wife, Tanya, to have the coats or the toothbrushes or the memories of the three boys.

Also found posted on John Skelton`s Facebook page is an apology, a prayer of sorts to God and to his ex-wife, Tanya, begging for their forgiveness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prayers tonight for Andrew, Alex and Tanner, the three Skelton brothers police say remain in grave danger the longer they go missing. No one has seen them since Thanksgiving, and everyone here is praying they are out there somewhere and safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today marked another day of dozens of volunteers searching this tiny town for any signs of the little boys, working with few if any leads, neighbors here spending the day traipsing through wooded areas, even streams.

Haley Simpkins (ph) searched late last night. It`s personal for her. She knows the boys and their family well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s devastating to them to know that they don`t know where the boys are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s back out today and isn`t discouraged when nothing is found.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it`s not, because then there`s hope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: This case is like a house of horrors because every time you turn the corner down one corridor, you get another bad surprise. Skelton was actually arrested in the hospital, admitted after a failed suicide attempt. He broke his foot apparently trying to hang himself.

Now, when cops questioned him about the noose they found in the home, his theory was that he was not trying to kill himself or his children, that the rope was actually an apparatus -- part of an apparatus he was building to go mountain climbing.

Never did really explain the broken foot, but he was absolutely admitted into the hospital for a failed suicide attempt, and that`s where he was arrested.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRACE: Now, that begs the question, if you willingly hand your three little boys over to a secret society to protect them, why would you kill yourself before they came out of hibernation upon high school graduation? Wouldn`t you be waiting for them with open arms? Wouldn`t you want to say, See? Here they are. They`re alive and well, just like I promised.

No, he tried to kill himself and broke his foot in the process. And I would be very curious to find out whether John Skelton had gone hiking or mountain climbing a day in his life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the course of the criminal investigation, something as serious as looking for three boys, we have to take all the appropriate steps and follow all the rules to ensure the positive and speedy outcome. If we don`t, we jeopardize that, and I`m not willing to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back here live, as the police chief continues to answer questions here. This is key now, the father saying he was handing these children over to a woman that he had an on-line Internet relationship with, a woman named Joann Taylor, possibly from Jackson County or Hillsdale County here in Michigan.

The police chief, though, just telling us they don`t know if that woman even exists. They don`t know if that`s some sort of false alarm that the father is passing along here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was contact with someone alleging to be Joann, but we, again, like I said before, cannot confirm that that person exists. We have been in regular and constant contact with Tanya regularly. She has been in our office virtually the entire day, working side by side with us in an effort to resolve this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Now, as I mentioned earlier, John Skelton gave many, many stories about the whereabouts of his three little boys, leading cops to quickly turn a missing person investigation into a multiple homicide investigation.

In addition to claiming he had handed his three little boys over to strangers of an underground society to protect children, he also said that he had had nightmares that he saw his three boys in a dumpster. And that`s a big red flag.

He also made drawings like maps and told others that he had left the boys in a park. He also told the story that he had left them in an abandoned schoolhouse. He also, as I mentioned earlier, told others that he wrapped them up in blankets with a stuffed animal before he handed them over to a stranger in a van.

He also said that when he wrapped the little boys up individually in blankets with stuffed animals, that was just a dry run for when he would really give the boys to the secret underground child protection society. So there are a lot of stories from which to pick.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police have cleared Tanya of any wrongdoing in this case. And even as John makes these accusations against his estranged wife, John says he wants to talk to her.

Have you tried talking to her?

SKELTON: No. She hasn`t talked to me since the 26th of November. I wish she would. I wish she would.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you tell her if you talked to her?

SKELTON: The way she treats me -- just stop treating me this way because I didn`t do anything wrong. I was trying to find a way to get people to talk to me, to get her to talk to me, to get to the bottom of what the boys had said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As for this ominous Facebook post the night before the disappearance of his sons, John says he was simply upset.

You posted something on your Facebook the night that the kids went missing. You said, "May God and Tanya forgive me." That was the night before the kids disappeared. What did you mean by that?

SKELTON: I was just -- I was spiraling -- I was spiraling out of control. Tanya -- I was depressed. Tanya played with my emotions to get the reaction that we got.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRACE: Now, about this so-called secret underground child protection sanctuary organization, even his stories on that were conflicting. At first, he claimed that he handed his boys over to them to protect them from an abusive mother.

Now, let me remind you that their mother had never been found to be neglectful or abusive to the three boys. In fact, she was granted sole custody of them. He was given no custody and no visitation.

One of the last times she let him visit with the children, he had run off, and she had a really tough time getting her children back, which was why she was very reluctant to let them see their father. But again, she relented over the holidays and let them visit, and they were never seen alive again.

Now, back to this secret society. First he claims he handed them over to the society to protect them from an abusive mom, which was not true. But then later, he changed even that story to state that the society got the children and then refused to give them back, that he could not get them back. So now it was the society`s fault.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the Shipshuana (ph) flea market here in Bowling Green, Ohio, right next door to the Woodland Mall. Sources confirm to Local 4 that the boys` former music teacher from Morenci is now telling investigators that she believes she spotted the boys here on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Tonight, we`ve learned she`s telling investigators that she believes she spotted Andrew, Alexander and Tanner here at the flea market with a woman matching the description also given by another Ohio woman, a worker at a doughnut shop in Sandusky. That former music teacher reportedly had no idea the boys were missing.

Keep in mind this was Friday night, the Friday night after Thanksgiving, and the Amber Alert didn`t go out until the next day, Saturday. This music teacher from Morenci, who is now retired, reportedly saw news reports this past Monday, learned the boys were missing, and went to Morenci police first thing Tuesday morning to talk to investigators and tell them what she saw.

Meantime, we`ve also learned FBI investigators were back out at the doughnut house in Sandusky yet again today, conducting brand-new interviews. And at this point, we know they will not confirm if they are, indeed, calling out a sketch artist to try and help in this investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vehicle that Mr. and Mrs. Skelton owned, a 2000 Dodge Caravan, blue in color, could potentially have been away from the residence during that period of time in question.

We believe potentially, the boys, Alexander, Tanner and Andrew, were in the vehicle that morning or the evening before. And the reports we have would indicate that that vehicle was not at the home during some of the time in question here.

So since we can last pinpoint the boys in the back yard on Thursday afternoon and that we know that the vehicle wasn`t at the home at a period of time there, we certainly would want any leads that we could gather.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Then 39-year-old John Skelton insists he did not hurt his boys, that, in fact, he`s the victim, that the boys were taken away from him just as much as they were taken away from the mother, that he is actually the one suffering.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`ve been searching everywhere, through campgrounds, woods, and everything in between.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went to the gravel pit, searched around there. We went to the campground. We searched through all the campsites around it, through the fields, as much as the FBI told us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so far, nothing. And no one wants to say it out loud, but this community is beginning to fear the worst has happened to Andrew, Alex and Tanner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Half these people don`t know the family. We just have a really caring community. I mean, we`re all -- we`re all like brothers out here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRACE: In this case, cell phone records reveal very interesting details. The day after Thanksgiving, early, early that morning, at 4:19 AM, his cell phone is at home, where he`s believed to be. But by 4:23 AM, four minutes later, that cell phone is on the move. And it is tracked across the state lines to Holiday City. That`s Williams County, Ohio, just across the state border. It stays in that range until back home -- they hear nothing more until back home at 6:46 AM.

Now, as we know, it`s shortly after that that he apparently attempts suicide and is taken to the hospital, where he is arrested.

The search for the three little boys was extensive. Police did everything within their power to find them or their remains. They searched ditches, barns, abandoned buildings, roadways, creeks, bodies of water, wooded areas. They searched by foot, by land, by air, in the water. Dive teams were brought in. K-9s were brought in. Volunteers searched. Police searched. In both states they searched.

And to this day, neither the boys nor their remains have been found. And it`s important to know that three months after the end of this massive search for the three boys, police renamed the investigation from missing person to homicide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigators from multiple agencies spent all evening here at the home in Morenci where the boys were last seen on Thanksgiving evening. They took evidence from the home. There`s also concern tonight because of a posting on Facebook from the boys` father.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Skelton`s last Facebook post reads, "I love my wife very much. May God and Tanya forgive me," a cryptic message that police are now trying to decipher.

Meanwhile, FBI, Michigan State Police and Morenci police brought out the chopper and searched John Skelton`s home late into Saturday night. Skelton`s house was the last place his three sons were seen alive. Five- year-old Tanner, seven-year-old Alexander and nine-year-old Andrew have not been seen or heard from since Thursday night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anytime you have children this old that are not with a caring loved one, I think you have to assume they`re in jeopardy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody is still, like I said, hoping and praying and trying to remain positive. So we`re hoping that the community can stay with us and be positive and be there and be our support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police say the three little boys disappeared after a bizarre chain of events reported by their father. Morenci police say John Skelton tried to kill himself in his home on Friday, but before doing so, Skelton says, he handed off the kids to a woman he met years ago on the side of the road.

Skelton is telling investigators the woman had car trouble, so he pulled over to help her and has maintained contact with her over e-mail. Skelton says Joann picked up the kids Friday morning at the house before he attempted suicide. Police are not sure this story adds up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up to this point, we have not been able to locate a Joann Taylor or confirm that she even exists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Skelton`s neighbors said he recently lost his job and separated from his wife, but they didn`t know his troubles had reached a boiling point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Finally we get a judge that knows what she`s doing and is not afraid to do it. This case came before Judge Margaret Noe. Prosecutors did not think they had enough evidence to go forward with homicide charges, so they went forward with what they had. And they definitely did the right thing. They went forward with three counts of unlawful imprisonment of the three boys. And he pled. He pled guilty to those three counts. And here`s where the judge took a U-turn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re looking at John Skelton`s mug shot. He is facing charges tonight of parental kidnapping and was taken into custody just moments after being released from a mental health facility in Ohio. Earlier today, before these charges were announced, the chief said to expect the worst. The police do not think this story will have a happy ending.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve continued to talk to virtually all parties involved in this investigation, including Mr. Skelton. The statements that he`s made to investigators would indicate that it`s not going to be a positive outcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the Skelton home in Morenci today, "Defender" cameras captured detectives with the Michigan State Police wearing gloves, carrying bags, removing what could be potential evidence. The children`s toys still cover the back yard. A stroller sits in the carport. And neighbors like Charles Cox (ph) miss seeing the kids next door outside playing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve seen the pictures everywhere. That`s the way they looked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re told Skelton was talking with investigators while in the hospital this morning, but told so many different stories and led those searching in so many different directions that cops simply don`t buy anything he says.

Skelton`s phones and computers have been seized, and we`re told another search at the home could begin Wednesday morning. Searchers on the ground here in Michigan have been focusing on a rural area about five miles from the family`s home. It`s an emotionally exhausting process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have two grandsons. I raised three kids of my own. We just -- we felt we had to do something. We couldn`t just sit back and not help somehow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRACE: Judge Margaret Noe was looking at the guidelines, the sentencing guidelines, which called for between 43 and 86 months. She said, and I quote, that that sentencing scheme was "grossly inadequate," and she insisted that he serve the full 15 years behind bars or until the three boys are no longer missing from their home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In his three-minute extradition hearing in Lucas County, John Skelton said he knew what he was charged with and agreed to go back to Michigan willingly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He needs to stay in prison until he tells where the boys are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now Skelton`s pastor hopes pressure back home will encourage him to tell police where his sons Alexander, Andrew and Tanner are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John is warm. He`s fed. He`s clothed. He can watch television. We don`t know those things about the boys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Skelton`s boys went missing around Thanksgiving. He told police he gave them to a woman he met on line. Police told the media this case will likely not have a positive outcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If, in fact, there is some evidence that the crime was committed here in Ohio, then we could bring him back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just keep believing that God is in control and that this will be resolved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pastor Donna Galloway (ph) speaks with the boys` mother every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just gets more difficult every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even though the family still can`t think of a negative outcome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Until we have something in front of us that indicates that there is no hope left, then hope is what we have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As for authorities, they`re thinking about their next step, if that`s to come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ohio does have the death penalty. Michigan does not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RITA COSBY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Skelton was driving a van, and what authorities said was very interesting -- that phone records in this case were extremely significant because they say that cell phone records show that at 4:19 AM, he was at his house. And then according to records, at 4:23, four minutes later, he`s on the move. Then he`s about 30 miles away about half an hour later.

He comes back to the house. It was around 6:46 AM. So during that time, from 4:23 to 6:46 AM, he is somewhere else. He`s out driving. He has gone quite a good distance. And authorities firmly believe it was in that timeframe -- again, the wee hours of the morning -- why is suddenly someone taking off from their house at 4:23 in the morning? It`s a very odd time to leave. But they believe it was at that point that he disposed of the three boys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... with (ph) the family, and I want to find these babies and bring them home to their mama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m from Virginia, the southwestern part of Virginia, and...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Volunteers came from near and far, hoping to find 7-year-old Alexander, 5-year-old Tanner and 9-year-old Andrew Skelton, who went missing Thursday afternoon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s been awful. I`m a mother, so it`s been a terrible experience to go through, and I just want to bring them home safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine your worst nightmare come true. How would you respond?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Searchers continue to look for the boys. They appeared to be saying a prayer as they boarded a bus after the developments, but made one very clear statement. They`re not giving up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These boys need to get home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Golden (ph) knows Andrew and Alex Tanner. The two oldest boys and their father stayed at her home in September. She says John Skelton came to Jacksonville with the two boys to attend a class reunion at Fletcher High School. But Golden says it was during that visit when she noticed things falling apart with the family. She says the boys` mother, Tanya Skelton, just filed for divorce in Michigan while the boys were here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It turned into a case where she had reported that the father had kidnapped them, that John had kidnapped them. And apparently, the situation escalated from there and I guess led up to this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Channel 4 investigators uncovered court documents today about that case. In September, there was an emergency hearing in Jacksonville to have the boys returned to Michigan to be with their mother.

Today, Michigan police charged John Skelton with parental kidnapping stemming from the latest disappearance, but his friends and family here in Jacksonville say they stand behind him. They believe someone else is hiding the boys to avoid a nasty custody battle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I hope is going on is that somebody somewhere is keeping those kids in a safe place and that they think that they`re doing the right thing by keeping them from a situation that they thought was going to be harmful to them emotionally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Skelton`s sister also lives in Jacksonville. She won`t talk about her brother but did talk about her missing nephews.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re fun-loving, real energetic, little God- worshiping little boys. They love their church. They love their family. They need to come home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I got to ask you about the family. How are you guys holding up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re sticking together. We`re just holding together and keeping each other strong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John, what did you do to your kids?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Well, to this day, Morenci, Michigan, police chief Larry Joe Weeks says that he believes that the bodies of three -- of these three little boys will be found within 80 miles of Morenci, that that is where they were hidden, that he will never give up and he will continue searching for the three little boys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to start at this road and we`re going to make a line to the north.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Volunteers, some who know and many who have no connection to the Skelton family, as well as dozens of firefighters from departments across Michigan and Ohio had a call time of 8:00 AM today and hit small towns that parallel the Ohio Turnpike, Holiday City, Conkel (ph), Montpelier and others, doing line searches through the rural area on foot, checking everything from Hillcrest Country Club to the Optic (ph) Park.

Most will tell you off-camera they believe Andrew, Alex and Tanner are dead, but their commitment to walk through the rain and the brush remains. The idea of leaving these children alone is something they just can`t tolerate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve known the family for a long, long time, so we`re just out here helping. Anything we can do to help, that`s what we want to do. We brought food and we volunteered to help look. And so we just can`t sit home and not do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Now as to their father, he`s still standing by his story that the three boys are with a secret underground society for child protection.

COSBY: In the end, Skelton was sentenced to 10 to 15 years behind bars. He pled guilty to three counts of false imprisonment, and the judge threw the book at him.

The judge went well beyond the sentencing guidelines because the judge felt, in this case, Skelton deceived investigators, still refused to tell authorities where the three boys were. He was not cooperating. He was not giving information. Even though he entered into this plea deal and did plead guilty to these three counts, they still felt his actions were so egregious, so terrible, and still not giving information on the boys.

She said, I will go well beyond -- this man has just committed a horrible crime, not sharing information, and I`m going to throw the book at him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thirty feet of water in this gravel pit is where dive teams began their search this morning for the three missing Skelton boys. So far, this phase of the search is concentrated on a half dozen small bodies of water near the St. Joseph River in Ohio. Divers from Toledo, Cambridge and Jerusalem remained in their boats, dragging sophisticated equipment through the water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sonar that we`re utilizing takes underwater images, basically silhouettes of what the bottom conditions are. And if there`s any objects that are of interest, we`ll deploy divers to rule them out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: K-9 units searched near the Ohio Turnpike, and once again today, volunteers and officers returned to the Lazy River campground. Today`s news conference was the most emotional of the six days. Both the police chief and the mayor talked about the boys and family members who missed them so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was at their house on one occasion and Andrew came out and he saw me and he says, Hey, Chief, how are you doing? I said, I`m good. How are you? And just a minute. And he ran back into the house and he came back out, and he had one of these toy police vests and caps. He said to me, he says, I`m going to be a police officer like you some day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRACE: He`s sticking with his story that the three little boys, Andrew, Alexander and Tanner, are with a secret underground society for child protection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only question left is, are you man enough to tell the truth once and for all? You`ve shown no courage. You`ve shown no guts. You`ve shown no class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Skelton spoke twice. He still gave no explanation, no idea where his three sons are, Andrew, Alexander and Tanner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) system didn`t fail me (INAUDIBLE) people who were close to me had done something (INAUDIBLE) That`s it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Skelton had previously said he turned the boys over to a secret underground organization. He was going through a divorce and alleged the boys were abused by their mother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I worry about them. Are they safe? (INAUDIBLE) most importantly, being loved? My fear is that the answer to these questions are no because no one will ever be able to love those three precious boys like I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judge Margaret Noe exceeded the guidelines, giving him 10 to 15 years in prison not for the murder, but for his plea of no contest to unlawful imprisonment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of you, Andrew, Alexander and Tanner are gone. We don`t know where they are, how they are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Morenci police chief is today asking deer hunters and people who live near Holiday City in northern Ohio, near the Michigan border, to still look for remains this fall. That`s where Skelton`s cell phone put him the morning after Thanksgiving, when the boys disappeared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that John Skelton disposed of the boys in some fashion during the timeframes I just indicated a short time ago. But you have to keep in mind, in that timeframe, he could have driven anywhere from up to 80 miles away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police chief saying out here 10 to 15 years is a long time to resolve this case one way or the other, and he will stay on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As part of a plea bargain, prosecutors dropped the charges of kidnapping. Those could have led to life in prison. This deal leaves the door open for murder charges if the boys are found dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do love my boys. All I was just wanted to say hi and meet you. That`s it. Give me a chance just to say hello. Do you want to just tell your boys to come home? Just say, Come home, honey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just come home, boys. Please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can do it. I know this has been hard for you. And everyone`s praying for you. You`re a beautiful person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What -- I guess right now, how are you staying strong? Everyone wants to know that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God and my family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Skelton maintains he gave his sons to an organization with the help of a woman named Joann Taylor. The FBI has said that woman does not exist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He also told the court he thought the group would bring the boys back when their mother no longer had custody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My heart wants to believe what he says, and I think it`s unfortunate he uses that as a mechanism to play with people`s emotions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the end, the judge called Skelton`s actions outrageous and deplorable, and said that her sentence would exceed the guidelines. The sentence, 10 to 15 years with nearly one year credit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During that time, Morenci police chief Larry Weeks vows to keep looking for the boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we`re not going to give up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief Weeks also said new information from Skelton`s cell phone shows he was northeast of Holiday City the morning after the boys disappeared. However, the timeframe shows he could have driven 80 miles in any direction. Today, John Skelton is headed to prison.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: But his story`s changed a little bit. Before, he said that the boys would hibernate in hiding until they graduated high school. But now he says that the boys will remain hidden until he, John Skelton, is released from jail.

END