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Human remains in Montana not missing children from Michigan

Alexander, Andrew, and Tanner Skelton are still missing, and were last seen November 26, 2010. These age-progressed photos show how they might look at 13, 15, and 11. Photos from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Investigators announced last week that the remains of three children found in Montana are not those of Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton, who were reported missing from Morenci, in Lenawee County, the day after Thanksgiving in 2010.

In December, the Michigan State Police learned that human remains were found in Montana in September, and were likely the skeletal remains of three children. The MSP First District Special Investigation Section then began working with Missoula police to determine if there was any connection to the Skelton brothers.

The Missoula County Coroner’s Office has now received updated information in regard to the three sets of facial bones fragments and teeth discovered in a shed at a local Missoula residence in September of 2017. 

The Coroner’s Office working in conjunction with Missoula City Police Detectives, Pathologists at the Montana State Crime Lab, Anthropology Department of the University of Montana, the University of North Texas (UNT) Center for Human Identification, and Investigators with the Michigan State Police have ruled out the partial human remains discovered in Missoula as being those of the three juvenile brothers who went missing in Michigan in 2010. Investigators have also been able to rule out a missing 11-year-old male, from Washington State. 

Utilizing advanced radiograph technology and dental record comparisons, Anthropologists from the UNT were conclusively able to exclude the remains of the aforementioned children. 

The UNT report is suggestive that the submitted bone samples from Missoula are historical and archaeological in origin and therefore over 99 years old. The report suggests that the bone fragments and teeth had been buried for some time prior to being uncovered and exposed to the elements. The report narrows the age windows for the three sets of human remains as follows: Individual 1, 2-5 years of age; Individual 2, 5-9 years of age; Individual 3, 6-8 years of age. The UNT report suggests that Individual 1 and possibly some of the loose teeth are of Asian derived Amerindian ancestry. 

Given the limited amount of bone specimens recovered and submitted to the lab, additional information confirming the sex, stature, or ancestry of the three remains is inconclusive. 

The coroner’s office in conjunction with other investigative agencies has requested the remains to be turned over to the UNT Human Identification Evidence Control section for DNA testing in an effort to scientifically confirm the remains are not a match of any known missing juvenile. Unfortunately due to the large number of cases at UNT, the DNA testing results are projected to be 6-8 months out 

The Missoula County Coroner’s Office hearts and prayers go out to the families of those who live with the pain and loss of having a missing family member.

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