Nov. 28 will be Tanya Zuver’s third Thanksgiving without her three sons. The boys were last seen on Thanksgiving Day, 2010 at their father’s house in Morenci, Mich. A neighbor saw them playing in the backyard.
It is believed the children vanished between 2 p.m. Nov. 26 and 11 a.m. the following day when their father, John Skelton, checked himself into a medical facility.
Tanya and John were in the middle of a divorce when the children went to spend Thanksgiving with their father on a scheduled visit. On Nov. 26, John checked himself into a medical facility for self-inflicted injuries. At that time he told police he had given his sons to a woman he met on the Internet. Since then, John has refused to provide further information about where the boys are.
The Morenci Police Department continues to search for Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton.
Last month investigators, prosecutors, behavioral experts and members of our staff gathered at our headquarters in Alexandria, Va. to discuss the three year old case. Chief Larry Weeks of the Morenci Police Department was on hand to help lead discussions.
The group combed through case files for two days, searching for anything that could provide another avenue for investigators to search.
“It was one of the largest case reviews that has been hosted by NCMEC,” said NCMEC Case Manager Patrick Maney. “We had over 30 experts here who are dedicated to resolving this case”
Andrew, Alexander and Tanner were as close as brothers could be. They loved playing soccer, they loved being outside and they especially loved their mom. Family members say you could see their different personalities come out on the soccer field.
Andrew, 9, stayed focused when running down the field with the ball. He was an excellent student and was quieter than his brothers. When he wasn’t studying, he was playing video or computer games.
Alexander, 7, was a great goalkeeper. He was a risk taker and was often the one getting into trouble. He was known to start water fights with his brothers.
Tanner, 5, was the youngest and could usually be found running all over the soccer field. He looked up to, and tried to keep up with, his older brothers. He had a wild imagination that would often result in great stories and laughter.
John Skelton is currently incarcerated for unlawful imprisonment in connection to Andrew, Alexander and Tanner’s disappearance.
Tanya will spend this Thanksgiving, just like the last two, without her sons.
Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton are still missing. View their poster: http://ow.ly/qAjLZ. If you have any information contact us at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). Calls can be made anonymously.
Hope is a powerful word, and it’s a word that we use often. It can be heard in the hallways from staff, parents and law enforcement.
This hope is powerful. It is hope that a missing child will be found. Hope that sexually exploited children will be identified and rescued. Hope that an unidentified victim will be given a name.
Our Biometric and Unidentified Persons Unit works to find those names. They help law enforcement and medical examiner’s offices identify remains of children. We know that it takes just one person to see the composite image of what the child looked like in life that recognizes the child. And if someone recognizes the child, a family will have answers, a proper burial can take place and the unidentified can be given back their name.
Several cases have made national headlines in the past few years. The most recent case was of “Baby Hope.”
The New York Police Department was so certain they could solve this case and bring justice for the 4-year-old they even gave her the name Hope. For 22 years detectives relentlessly followed-up on any leads that may have held an answer or clue to who she was. And now, two decades after her small body was discovered in a cooler, law enforcement has positively identified her. One more child has been given back her name and her body has finally been laid to rest.
Today we, along with the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Department of Coroner, need your help identifying another unknown baby. After 28 years, the search for the identity of Jane Doe Baldwin Hills continues.
The baby girl was found in an alley behind a Baldwin Hills apartment building located at 4206 Santo Tomas Dr in Los Angeles.
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The child is believed to have been between 10 to 12 months old and weighed only 14 pounds. She had four teeth, two on the top and two on the bottom, and her ears were pierced. She was discovered on Aug. 19, 1985 at around 6 a.m. when a passerby going to work noticed her naked and malnourished body. It is believed the baby’s body was placed in the alley between 4 and 6 a.m.
The Los Angeles Police Department has set up a private tip line for this case. If you have any information regarding the identity of Jane Doe Baldwin Hills call 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247) and leave a tip for Juvenile Division Detective Marie Grebinski. Or email your tips to lacrimestoppers.org. Tips may be made anonymously.
View and print Jane Doe Baldwin Hills poster here: http://ow.ly/qiFki
(Parent and volunteer youth sports coach Ed Russo encourages his team.)
As a volunteer youth sports coach, I have the opportunity to meet a lot of great kids and their parents. One thing I’ve realized is that in youth sports a great team isn’t just made up of talented players, but involved parents. So when choosing players, I often consider the quality of the parent as much as the child. Having good, supportive, engaged parents makes the season more successful.
Download these safety tips and share them in your community: http://ow.ly/pSM71
Halloween is one of the most exciting times of the year for children, but sometimes hectic for parents and guardians. In addition to worrying about costumes and cavities, parents must be conscious of where their children are and who they are with.
Akers reminds parents to dress children in brightly colored costumes that are easily visible and to stay alert when crossing streets.
This Halloween, take a moment to consider the following basic safety precautions to help make it a safe and fun night for your children.
Fourteen-year-old Avonte Oquendo was last seen leaving his school on Oct. 4 in Astoria, N.Y. He was wearing a grey striped shirt, black jeans and black shoes. Avonte is reported to have autism and is nonverbal.
View Avonte’s poster here: http://ow.ly/pWP2v. If you have any information about his location please contact us at 1-800-843-5678. Calls may be made anonymously.
At the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children we have seen a spike in the cases of missing children diagnosed with autism or related disorders. Many of these children are unable to communicate verbally, making it even more difficult for them to find the help they need.
For families of children with autism, one of the best means of prevention is preparation. While this growing trend is frightening, there are things we all can do to prepare.
If a child with autism goes missing, immediately call local law enforcement. But also begin searching.
Those who are closest at the moment he or she goes missing will be the first to call law enforcement and the first begin the search. Early communication about the child’s habits is what will help these people know what to tell law enforcement and where to look.
They should know:
We recommend families talk to those closest to them — such as neighbors, teachers, friends and extended family — about the child’s habits.
Likewise, we recommend those closest to a child with autism talk to that child’s family about his or her habits.
We know that the first few hours after a child goes missing are the most important. Open communication between families of children with autism and others in that child’s life may help bring these children home faster.
Jose Sanchez’s son went missing in 2006. Since Jose was reunited with his son in 2010, he has volunteered for Team HOPE. Read about his experience in our ongoing series from volunteers with Team HOPE, a peer support program for families with missing or sexually exploited children.
Our stories are stories of tears. They are stories of unspeakable, gut wrenching pain and, not often enough, they are stories of breathtaking happiness. I am here only because I lived for the day that I would see my son again.
I can also say that I am here in great part because of the support I received from Team HOPE. The unconditional support I received from Daniel, my Team HOPE volunteer, was invaluable. Every day without my son was full of agony and uncertainty; but every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. I could count on Daniel’s support.
When my Team HOPE volunteer Daniel called, he would always offer encouragement and ask about my health. He wanted to make sure I stayed healthy not only for myself, but also for my son. Sometimes I would sit by the phone and I would not have the strength to answer his call; but knowing that I could count on him to call meant the world to me.
Talking to a parent whose child has been abducted is a difficult thing to do. Family members and friends very often stop calling, because there is nothing they can say to make one feel better. There is nothing else but the abduction to talk about, because nothing else matters. The great weight of this truth is too much for most people to bear. “Feeling better” or “getting over it” are not options.
It is difficult for someone who has not been through a similar experience to understand that the agony, stress and desperation never subsides, even after years of searching. Team Hope is made up of volunteers who have suffered through similar situations. Team Hope volunteers understand that it is ok to suffer and cry every day, as long as you are taking care of your day-to-day responsibilities and as long as you remain healthy for that beautiful, hopeful day when news will come of your loved one.
Every day for almost four years was a nightmare, but at about midnight on June, 16, 2010, I received a call from a U.S. Marshal in charge of my son’s case. They had found my son and his mother in Homer, AK. My son was taken into custody and his mother was arrested.
On June 17, I flew to Alaska. At 9:30 a.m. on June 18, in the offices of the Department of Family Services, I was reunited with my now 10-year-old son. The emotions I felt are indescribable, but “total bliss” comes to mind. On Sunday, June 20 we had a family reunion at my parent’s house in Chicago. My entire family had also suffered through my son’s abduction and now it was time to celebrate.
I have many memories from that day, but one comes to mind. I was standing on the deck, which overlooks the backyard. My son Joey was running around with his cousins, laughing and playing as they were having an awesome water fight. As I looked to one of the far corners of the yard, I saw my father sitting alone on a lawn chair. He was sitting quietly looking at all his grandchildren playing, and from the distance I could see by the turning of his head that he was following my son’s every move. My father was finally seeing his eldest grandson once again. It was fitting that June 20, 2010 was Father’s Day.
My son is a survivor of parental child abduction. He is a happy and healthy 8th grader, who wants to study astrophysics. By the grace of God and through the help and support of family, law enforcement, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Team HOPE, I was able to recover him.
Sadly the work of Team HOPE is never ending. Many cases remain open and new abductions happen every day. I thank God for all who have also found their children; even if the children were not found alive. To those who are still searching, I will continue to offer my deepest prayers for strength, grace and the safety of your children.
If your life has been touched by the heartbreak of having a missing or exploited child and you feel you need support contact Team HOPE at 1-866-305-HOPE.
Though there are many programs impacted by the government shutdown, the AMBER Alert program has not been impacted. The critical work of this unique program continues.
Inspired by tragedy and created in 1996, the AMBER Alert program has become a story of success. There have been 656 children safely recovered because of this program.
The U.S. Department of Justice coordinates the program nationally, but in many ways, it is a local initiative. There is a network of local AMBER Alert plans that each manages the distribution of alerts within their geographic area.
These local networks cover all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The decision to issue an AMBER Alert is made by local law enforcement based on their investigation and the guidelines of their AMBER Alert Plan. Law enforcement dictates the area and the content of the alert. It is then broadcast through radio, television and road signs.
The alert is also sent to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. At the request of the Department of Justice, we redistribute the alerts to a group of companies and organizations. They expand the reach of AMBER Alerts by placing them in airports, at gas stations, in hotels, on billboards, on the Internet and on wireless devices.
The AMBER Alert Program is named for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas. In the wake of her death, local residents wanted to find a way to quickly engage the community in the search for an abducted child.
For more information about the AMBER Alert program visit http://www.missingkids.com/AMBER.
In 1990, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina began investigating the tragic case of a woman found dead along Interstate 40 in Hillsborough. Eight years later, and 11 miles away, tragedy struck the I-40 corridor in Orange County again. On Sept. 25, 1998, a small boy was found on a service road in Mebane.
While law enforcement has no reason to believe these two cases are connected, they do highlight a heartbreaking type of case agencies across the country investigate every day, the identification of unknown child victims.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is currently assisting law enforcement and medical examiners offices around the country with more than 650 cases.
These young people may have had friends and neighbors, classmates and teammates. Someone may have seen them walking to school, or going to work. They could have been in someone’s life every day, and then suddenly were not.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office needs the public’s help in identifying these two victims.
On Sept. 25, 1998 a maintenance crew discovered the body of a small boy while mowing the side of a service road in Mebane, N.C. known as Industrial Drive.
It has been 15 years since the boy was found and he remains unidentified.
Law enforcement believes the boy was white or Hispanic and between the ages of 10 and 12 years old. He likely died elsewhere and was moved to this location adjacent to Interstate 40 between Hillsborough and Greensboro sometime in the spring or summer of 1998.