Missing Michigan Boys' Dad Arrested, Cops Don't Expect 'Positive Outcome' for Brothers

PHOTO: Alexander William Skelton, Andrew Ryan Skelton and Tanner Lucas Skelton are seen in these photos courtesy of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The kids disappear after dad gives them to a woman he met on internet.PlayCourtesy of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
WATCH Missing Michigan Boys: Dad Questioned

The father of the three Michigan brothers who have been missing since Thanksgiving has been arrested on three counts of parental kidnapping, authorities announced today.

"John Skelton has been released from the hospital and immediately placed in custody," said Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks. Skelton was hospitalized following a failed suicide attempt.

Earlier today, Weeks said that a positive outcome was "not likely" for the three boys.

"Based on the information we have, we do not anticipate a positive outlook here," said Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks. "We have asked a number of people where the boys are. We have not been able to locate them."

Weeks said that despite local reports that bodies have been recovered in the search for the boys he could not confirm the rumors.

Skelton will have to face an extradition hearing from Ohio, where he was arrested, to Michigan, where the crimes are believed to have been committed.

Earlier today, as new details emerged about the relationship between the boy's father, John Skelton, and his wife, Tanya Skelton, it was revealed that a nasty custody battle may have led to the disappearance of the three brothers. The couple married eight years ago but decided to separate earlier this year. Both sought permanent custody of their three sons -- Andrew Skelton, 9; Alexander Skelton, 7; and Tanner Skelton, 5 -- hurling insults at each other about how capable each was to parent the trio.

John Skelton argues that his wife is an "unfit parent," citing her status as a registered sex offender (she was convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old boy more than a decade ago), according to court documents. Tanya Skelton argues her husband's long absences as a truck driver make him an unfit parent.

Asked how Tanya Skelton is coping with her sons' disappearance, Weeks said, "Well, imagine your worst nightmare come true."

Now police are preparing to spend another day searching for the young boys who were at first believed to be with a woman named Joann Taylor, whom Skelton said he'd given the kids to in an attempt to shield them from his botched suicide attempt.

But police said Monday that Skelton had lied about having a relationhip with Taylor, and they question whether she even exists.

"We can confirm that there is no established relationship between [John Skelton] and the person he described as Joann Taylor," Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks said.

Skelton had told police that he'd handed his sons off to Taylor who was to return them to their mother on Thanksgiving evening.

Skelton had said he'd met Taylor and her husband a few years ago after he helped them when their car broke down, and then began e-mailing her, police said.

But confirming that Taylor even exists has been a challenge for authorities since the boys disappeared.

"A reported relationship between Mr. Skelton and Joann Taylor doesn't exist," Weeks said, adding that Skelton had lied during questioning.

Skelton may have also had a history of taking the children without their mother's knowledge. According to the Associated Press, Skelton took his sons to Ohio and then to Florida in September.

Michael Welner, a top forensic psychiatrist and an ABC News consultant, said today on "GMA" that if Skelton is involved in the disappearance, he may have been feeling a "heightened sense of failure."

"Pride is very much tied into financial ruin and there are some fathers in states of deep depression, sometimes accelerated by alcohol or other substance abuse, who might feel that they can't face their children seeing them fail," said Welner.

"They may feel that they're doing the children a service, that they won't be homeless, improverished and have a father in ruins," he said.

Authorities Continue Searching for Missing Michigan Brothers

Skelton has not been named a suspect in his childrens' disappearance but authorities are asking for the public's help in locating his car which Weeks said was not at the home Thursday and Friday. Specifically, Weeks wants to know whether anyone saw the car between 2:30 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Friday.

"Authorities have information that the vehicle was not at home during some of that time and believe the boys were in the car that morning or the evening before," Weeks said.

The blue 2000 Dodge Caravan, license plate No. 9JQ H93, has since been towed from Skelton's home, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Investigators are also expanding their search to the Ohio-Michigan border, specifically in Holiday City in Ohio, and said they have taken several items from Skelton's home. Weeks declined to comment on whether authorities had seized Skelton's computer.

Doug Rowland, the owner of the Lazy River Campground in Pioneer, Ohio, told ABCNews.com that about 60 investigators visited his property today to search for the boys but came up empty handed.

Rowland said police told him they were working on a lead from a "ping" they got off a cell phone and they also suggested that Skelton himself mentioned a campground during an interview.

Police have said that the boys, who have been missing for four days, could be in "extreme danger."

"We remain hopeful," Weeks said. "That's why we're doing what we're doing to find these boys and bring them home."

The grandmother of the missing boys earlier today made an emotional plea for their return.

"We just have to reach out to this person and relay how very important it is that they come home to their mom," said Roxann Skelton, the boys' fraternal grandmother. "[Taylor] needs to put herself in the mother's position for five seconds and multiple it by one thousand and she'd realize the pain and hurt and terribly agony the family is going through for these boys."

FBI and State Police Help Search

Search crews, as well as hundreds of volunteers, looked for the boys throughout the weekend, focusing much of their efforts in wooded areas surrounding Skelton's home.

Asked how she knows her son is telling the truth about Taylor, Roxann Skelton responded, "Because I know my son. ... He loves his boys, his boys are his life, it's as simple as that.

"Whether her name is Joann Taylor or Mary Poppins doesn't matter to me, all I know is that these children are with her, I know this," she said. "Those boys are out there terrified, but they are out there.

"Those children need to come home to their mother and if she can't bring them home, if she feels for some reason she can't do it, drop them off to a house of safety; a fire department, a police department, a McDonald's, for heaven sake," she said. "Anything, just bring these boys home with their mother where they belong."

Police said it is possible that Taylor lives in either Jackson or Hillsdale, Mich., but they are not sure the woman even exists.

The FBI and Michigan State Police are also involved in the search.

Neighbors of the Skelton family say they're shocked that the boys are missing.

"They lived across the street from me, I used to watch them playing outside, being boys and having fun," neighbor Jody Pummell said.

Family friend Shelly Meyers said, " A lot of people didn't sleep the last couple of nights, that's for sure."

Searcher Steve Clegg said, "We haven't had anything remotely close to this happen and now to have something this happen, yeah, it hits home."

Alexander Skelton is 3-foot-9, 45 pounds and has brown eyes, brown hair and a scar on his chin. Tanner Skelton is 3-foot-6 with blue eyes and blonde hair. Andrew Skelton 4 feet tall, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Morenci police asked that anyone with any information about the boys' whereabouts or who might have seen John Skelton with them any time after Thursday, contact them at (517) 263-0524.

ABC News' Dean Schabner contributed to this report.