A year later mother of missing Morenci brothers believes they are alive

MORENCI, Mich. (WXYZ) - It was one year ago on Thanksgiving-eve that Tanya Zuvers last saw her sons Alexander, Tanner and Andrew alive. She hugged and kissed them as she dropped the boys off at their grandmother's house.

Two days later her life changed forever.

"I said I love you and I said I'll see you on Friday," Tanya said.

It was a reunion that still hasn't happened.

The boys, only 5, 7 and 9 at the time, were eventually on their way to see their father John Skelton, Tanya's then-estranged husband, as part of their shared-custody agreement. The boys were spending Thanksgiving with Skelton. John was supposed to return the boys to their mother on Friday.

When Tanya called John that day to ask if she could pick up the brothers early, John told her several different stories. Eventually Tanya became suspicious.

"He said well, I haven't been exactly honest with you. And then my heart started really racing. He said I'm on my way to the hospital – I got hurt doing housework and remodeling. The boys, he said, stayed the night away. The boys will be home around three," Tanya said.

And from there the situation exploded. Police and federal agents descended on John's home and the town of Morenci. Investigators found a noose in John's house and detectives ultimately discovered a search for ‘neck breaking' on his computer.

John's story to investigators about what happened to the kids changed multiple times. And even as hundreds of volunteers searched for Alexander, Tanner and Andrew, it became clear to police something terrible happened to the brothers.

Tanya, though, is not giving up hope.

"I know what the police have told me and I appreciate and respect what they have to do. Likewise they know where I stand, and they respect and appreciate that," Tanya said.

"As the boys' mom, in my heart, they're still alive."

And despite the fact that Tanya will rarely utter her ex-husband's name she has just enough faith to believe he wouldn't hurt their sons.

"I do not feel and the man that I knew couldn't, wouldn't harm his children that way."

The Zuvers family as a whole isn't giving hope in finding the brothers, who all turned one year older in the past month. Tanya and her family are also grateful for all of the help from the community in Morenci and beyond.

"I'm overwhelmed with how much people care and I am so thankful to everyone who keeps my sons in their thoughts and prayers," Tanya said.

Last summer Skelton pleaded no contest to unlawful imprisonment charges. The judge in the case slapped him with 10 to 15 years behind bars.

This Sunday the Morenci community is holding an awareness event at Morenci High School. The activities, which include song, prayer and tributes to the boys, begins at 2 p.m.

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