ADRIAN, Mich. (AP) - The father of three boys who have been missing since Thanksgiving waived his right to an extradition hearing in Ohio on Tuesday and was promptly driven back to Michigan to face charges.
John Skelton, 39, appeared in a Lenawee County magistrate's office by video feed from the county jail. Magistrate Mindy England ordered him held on $30 million bond.
District Court administrator Mark Fetzer, citing a local policy, barred the news media from attending. Michigan court rules, however, prohibit closed hearings unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
"It's not a public forum. We're not doing anything differently just because of the high-profile nature of the case," Fetzer said.
Skelton is charged with three counts of parental kidnapping in the disappearance of his sons Andrew, 9, Alexander, 7, and Tanner, 5. The boys were last seen playing on Thanksgiving in their father's backyard in Morenci, a town about 70 miles southwest of Detroit near Michigan's border with Ohio.
Skelton's estranged wife, Tanya Skelton, reported her sons missing the next day after John Skelton didn't return them to her from a court-ordered visitation.
John Skelton allegedly tried to hang himself that day, and he has been in custody since his Nov. 30 discharge from an Ohio medical facility where he was treated. Police say he made up a story about giving the children to a friend to bring to his estranged wife.
After hundreds of volunteers spent days combing the countryside along the Michigan-Ohio border following the boys' disappearance, Weeks said he didn't see the case having a positive outcome.
But Tanya Skelton, who has avoided speaking to the media since her sons' disappearance, told WXYZ-TV on Tuesday that she still believes they are alive.
"I love you, I miss you and I want you home," Tanya Skelton said.
She said she misses "their hugs, their kisses, their smiles. They're joy of life. They love life. They're all boy, through and through."
John Skelton will be arraigned on Wednesday. He wants a court-appointed lawyer after reporting no income and monthly debts of about $675.
Earlier Tuesday, he appeared in a Lucas County, Ohio, courtroom wearing a brown jail jumpsuit, not the type of protective gown he wore during a previous appearance designed to stop inmates from harming themselves. Looking more alert and sporting a thicker beard, Skelton sat in a wheelchair and was wheeled out at the conclusion of the hearing.
Skelton's Ohio attorney, Merle Dech, declined to say why Skelton decided to stop fighting extradition.
Parental kidnapping carries a prison sentence of a year and a day.
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