Police decline to confirm existence of mystery woman in case of 3 missing Michigan boys

In a case with obvious parallels to the disappearance and death of Florida toddler Caylee Anthony, a Michigan man says he attempted suicide by hanging after claiming to have handed his three boys off to a mysterious online acquaintance. The boys have not been seen nor heard from since Friday.

39-year-old John Skelton, of Morenci, Michigan, says that he met a woman named Joann Taylor at the side of a road years ago, maintaining contact with her online in the intervening years. It was Taylor, Skelton says, to whom he entrusted his three young boys before his suicide attempt Friday. On Facebook, however, he posted a cryptic and alarming message referencing his estranged wife:

“I love my wife very much, may God and Tanya forgive me.”

Skelton contacted an acquaintance ater the attempt to take his own life failed, but what became of the boys- 9-year-old Andrew, 7-year-old Alexander and 5-year-old Tanner, is still unclear. Authorities have indicated that Skelton may have let the children out at the side of the road, but a criminal profiler who spoke to CBS believes the real outcome may be a lot more sinister.

Calling Skelton’s alibi “bogus,” Pat Brown says:

“Doesn’t make a darn bit of sense. We’re talking about a man who he just wants the children to go back to the mother, so he can commit suicide. Why doesn’t he simply drive them over there and drop the children himself or have his mother do it? Why does he call some stranger, and oh, by the way, he can’t even give the police the woman’s address or phone number? They have no idea how he even contacted her. Yeah, he has no record on his cell phone. He has no record on his Internet. It’s a bogus story.”

Brown also pointed out the similarities between the unusual spelling of Skelton’s mother’s name and the unusual spelling of “Joann” given to police by Skelton. (Neither end in “e,” as is most common for the names.) She added:

“It’s a horrifying thought but, you know, sometimes in these divorce situations if you have a person with a personality disorder, he thinks, you know, ‘I’m not going to accept this divorce or let you have the kids.’ She had full custody. ‘She’s not going to get them back. If I can’t have them, she can’t have them.’ 

”So I think the police think this is not going to turn out well, but they’re doing everything they can just in case because they are hoping, they’re hoping they are wrong, that these children are out there someplace, and so they are going to look for them.”

Skelton is currently being held in a mental health facility as searchers comb surrounding areas for the three boys.