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Hanging upside down for luck

Caitlen Cameron • Updated Dec 19, 2017 at 8:47 PM

DELPHI — To honor the seven-year anniversary of three boys gone missing, a pastor and his wife built and decorated a live, 15-foot tree to represent "luck.”

Skelton boys, Tanner, Alexander and Andrew, went missing Thanksgiving Day in 2010. Their father, John Skelton, took the boys for the holiday from their Morenci home, near the Michigan and Ohio border. The children have not been seen or heard from since. 

On Sunday, Pastor Larry and Susan Ocheske continued a tradition they’ve held for three years, creating a sign of optimism, hoping the good luck charm would bring peace to the family. The special open house event was held in the Methodist Church in Delphi.

"We decorated this upside-down Christmas tree to give luck to the boys and family wherever they are out there," Larry Ocheske said.

The Skelton brothers, also known as the Morenci boys, were 5, 7 and 9 when they were last seen.

The Ocheskes have coordinated several events for the boys and have always created upside-down trees for their own family traditions. However, after they first heard of the sad event in the news, the couple said they believed they were moved by their hearts for a greater purpose, despite not knowing the children.

“Even though the boys aren’t our family personally, we feel that we need to do this from our hearts,” Larry said. “We take our own money and treat this tree and gathering as a Christmas present to each other and to the boys each year.

“We believe the upside Christmas tree is like the cross.” 

According to his wife, fir trees were first hung bottoms up from ceilings at Christmas time in Central and Eastern Europe as a symbol of Christianity and the trinity because it resembled the shape of Christ being crucified.

The locally-grown Korean fir tree is held up by a brace and a 2 by 4, creating the Christian symbol on the wall. It took three days to decorate.

“The hardest part was hanging the individual icicle tinsel,” Larry said.

Since the boys have not been found, John Skelton, continues to serve 10 to 15 years in prison after pleading no contest to the unlawful imprisonment of his sons. However, he maintains he didn’t harm them. 

In a sad turn of events, the Michigan State Police said they may have found the remains of the three children in Montana Thursday, according USA Today

The news organization reported the police were investigating if the remains found in September of three young boys could be belong to the Skelton brothers. The bones, found in a shed, were estimated to belong to children aged 2 to 4 years, 5 to 8 years and 6 and 10 years, the news organization reported.

“One thing I know for a fact is that, wherever they are at, they are with God, and he is taking care of them,” Larry said.

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