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Police: DNA comparison to missing brothers could take months

December 15, 2017

FILE - In this Dec. 22, 2010, file photo, portraits of three missing Morenci, Mich. boys: Andrew, Alex and Tanner Skelton are displayed on a shelf in their grandparents home. Authorities say it could take months before DNA from the remains of three children found in Montana can be compared to DNA in the 2010 disappearance of the three Michigan brothers. The boys were 9, 7 and 5 when they were last seen at their father's Michigan home in November 2010. The boys' father, John Skelton, has said he didn't harm his sons. He's in prison after pleading no contest to unlawful imprisonment for not returning them to their mother after Thanksgiving. (Regina H. Boone//Detroit Free Press via AP, File)

DETROIT (AP) — It could take months before DNA from the remains of three children found in Montana can be compared with DNA in the 2010 disappearance of three Michigan brothers due to a backlog of cases awaiting DNA testing, Michigan state police said Friday.

Once available, the results will be compared with DNA collected in the case of Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton. The boys were 9, 7 and 5 when they were last seen at their father’s southern Michigan home in November 2010.

The Montana remains were found in September in Missoula. An anthropologist estimated the children’s ages to be 2-4 years old, 5-8 years old and 6-10 years old.

“We have no connection between our Skelton case and Montana,” detective Lt. Jeremy Brewer told The Associated Press on Friday.

He said he learned about the Missoula remains this week from Montana news articles.

“I was provided with the information by people loosely familiar with the Skelton investigation,” Brewer said. “I read it real quickly Wednesday night, got into the office Thursday and spoke with a couple of their detectives.”

The disappearances of the Skelton boys remain a mystery that authorities in Michigan have vowed to solve. Authorities have said they believe the boys are dead.

Tanya Zuvers reported her sons missing after her estranged husband, John Skelton, failed to return them to her Morenci home on Thanksgiving. The boys had been visiting their father for the holiday.

A massive search over a number of days followed through woods, cornfields, campgrounds, ditches, garages, sheds and other structures in the small community about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southwest of Detroit and near the Ohio state line.

Skelton, 46, has told investigators that he didn’t harm the boys. He pleaded no contest to three counts of unlawful imprisonment in exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge of parental kidnapping. The unlawful imprisonment charge pertains to Skelton’s failure to return the boys to Zuvers. Pleading “no contest” is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.

He was sentenced in 2011 and is serving 10 to 15 years in prison.

Skelton insisted that he gave the boys to a group to protect them from their mother. He has refused to identify the group.

Zuvers has denied ever mistreating her sons.

Michigan state police took over the investigation in 2013.

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