In November 2019, authorities in Rexburg, Idaho responded to a phone call regarding the welfare of two children who hadn’t been seen by their extended family for over a month. Seventeen-year-old Tylee Ryan and her seven-year-old adopted brother, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, had been missing since September, 2019 when their mother, Lori Vallow and her new husband, Chad Daybell, moved the family from Arizona to Idaho a just a few weeks before.
When officers showed up to the couple’s residence the children were nowhere to be found. They told police that the kids were staying with relatives back in Arizona and didn’t offer up any more information. When officers returned with a warrant the following day, Vallow, 46, and Daybell, 51, had vacated the premises. The couple would be tracked down two months later in Kauai, Hawaii, in January 2020 after police stopped them in their vehicle. The missing children were nowhere to be found. Vallow was presented with a deadline from the Idaho Department of Welfare to physically produce her children before a court but failed to meet requirements. She was subsequently arrested and presented with a list of charges including non-support of dependent children, wilful disobedience of process order, desertion and criminal solicitation to commit a crime, amongst other offenses.
In February, 2020 CCTV footage from a storage unit in Idaho back in September 2019, captured Vallow and a man suspected to be her brother, Alex Cox, storing JJ and Tylee’s belongings in one of the units not long after the children went missing. On February 10, investigators discovered Tylee’s phone in Vallow and Daybell’s possession. A txt had been sent from the phone a month after the children went missing, a message to one of the teenager’s friends saying she missed the recipient. A Venmo app on the phone had also been used to make two transactions to family members. Vallow never reported her own children missing, nor did she and her new husband stick around to aid police in their investigation or provide further information pertaining to the children’s whereabouts.
A look into the couple’s history revealed a strange past shrouded in death, suspicious circumstances and links to a Doomsday cult.
In the Summer of 2019, Lori Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, murdered her ex-husband, Charles Vallow, in what was ruled to be an act of self-defence. Cox claimed Mr. Vallow attacked him with a baseball bat, so he, in an act of self-defence, retrieved his gun and shot the man. Cox himself would die several months later in December 2019, of an unknown cause.
Before he was shot, Charles Vallow was said to have been worried about Lori’s mental state and her belief that she was a God or spiritual being. He reportedly said that she threatened his life if he were to try and stand in the way of her mission. Friends and family remember Lori Vallow as a dedicated mother who would do anything for her children and admit that they don’t recognise the woman they see today. They comment that Lori started to change after her involvement with what they believe to be a cult. Her focus began to shift to prepping and encouraging others to do so, friends told media outlets. Despite being married four times, friends said she advised them not to marry and pushed them to divorce their husbands and “do their own thing”. Most disturbingly, Lori reportedly said to friends on more than one occasion that they should all die together as Doomsday was fast approaching, causing worry and concern regarding the welfare of her missing kids.
It would later be revealed that Cox had threatened another of Lori’s ex-husbands back in 2017. The ex-husband reportedly died of a heart attack just a year later.
Chad Daybell’s wife, Tammy Daybell, also died of an unknown cause in October 2019. Daybell reportedly received $430,000 from her life insurance policy. Not even a full month passed before Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow married in November and later relocated to Idaho.
Daybell, 51, has penned over half a dozen post-apocalyptic sci-fi books through his Spring Creek Book Company. The titles are aimed at a Mormon audience and are often themed around the end times. He was featured at least twice on a podcast powered by Preparing a People, a collective that subscribe to the beliefs of the Church of Latter-Day Saints and is being referred to as a doomsday cult in the media. A statement posted to the homepage of www.preparingapeople.com conveys shock at the news of the missing children and the recent headlines surrounding Daybell, who was often included on the P.A.P roster as a speaker at their events. He was also featured on at least two of their podcast episodes, where he discussed his books as well as his near-death experiences. Daybell explains on his WordPress blog (Standing in Holy Places) that he believes he has one foot in the mortal world and one in the spirit world as a result of his brushes with death over the years. It is believed that Vallow was attracted to Daybell through his writings as she shared similar beliefs and her friends claimed she became obsessed with reading his works and even bought copies to give to those close to her, encouraging them to read the material. It has also been reported that Lori Vallow believed she was a God, destined to lead “the 144,000” to the new millennium. The number 144,000 is significant to some Christians due to its appearance in the Old testament as the number of those who will be saved come the end times, however, the significance and interpretation can differ slightly depending on religious denomination.
Lori Vallow is being held on $5 million bail.
Her children are still missing.