(NEWSER) – A troubled father fighting for custody of his three young sons may have simply "dumped" them on a cold, lonely stretch of Ohio highway, police believe. Cops, firefighters and volunteers have spent days hunting for Andrew, 9, Alex, 7, and 5-year-old Tanner, who haven't been seen since Thanksgiving. They hope the boys were alive when they were abandoned by their father, John Skelton, and have managed to survive, but hope is fading, and officials have limited children from helping in the search, worried about what they may find, reports the Detroit News.
"Until we've exhausted everything, we're continuing on," said the local police chief. Skelton had told police he left the boys with a woman friend who was to deliver them back to their mom, but police say that was a lie. Their mother alerted police that the boys were missing when Skelton turned up at a Ohio hospital without them following a failed suicide attempt. Skelton was in a bitter custody battle with the boys' mom, who's on the state's sex offender list for sex with an underage boy.