REXBURG, Idaho — Authorities in Idaho are asking for the public’s help finding two siblings whose disappearance in September might be linked to the suspicious death of their stepfather’s former wife.
Family members outside Idaho told Rexburg police that they haven’t heard from Tylee Ryan, 17, or Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, since September. Joshua Vallow was described as a child with special needs who had been adopted by Lori Vallow. In a missing persons flyer, officials warned he might need medical attention.
Update 11:25 a.m. EST Dec. 24: An attorney representing the mother and stepfather of Joshua Vallow and Tylee Ryan described them as loving and devoted in a statement released Monday to EastIdahoNews.com.
Chris Daybell and Lori Vallow were married shortly after the death of Daybell’s previous wife, 49-year-old Tammy Daybell, according to police. Tammy Daybell was found dead in October of what was initially believed to be natural causes. Her death has since been classified as suspicious.
“Chad Daybell was a loving husband and has the support of his children in this matter,” attorney Sean Batholick, of Rigby, Andrus & Rigby, said in the statement obtained by EastIdahoNews.com. “Lori Daybell is a devoted mother and resents assertions to the contrary. We look forward to addressing the allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor.”
No charges have been filed against either Lori Vallow or Chad Daybell. Police said Saturday that the couple was wanted for questioning in connection to the disappearance of Lori Vallow’s children.
Lori Vallow’s previous husband, Charles Vallow, died July 11 after being shot by her brother, according to KSAZ-TV. The shooting was determined to be in self-defense and no charges were filed, The Arizona Republic reported. The couple was estranged at the time of Charles Vallow’s death, according to KSAZ-TV.
Family members told KSTU that Lori Vallow joined what they described as a religious doomsday cult with Chad Daybell, a self-published author whose work focuses on religion, the end of the world and near-death experiences.
Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell appeared several times over the past year on podcasts hosted by Preparing A People, EastIdahoNews.com reported. The organization describes itself as “helping to prepare people of this Earth for the second coming of Jesus Christ.”
The podcasts featuring the pair had been removed as of Monday morning, EastIdahoNews.com reported.
“We considered Chad Daybell a good friend, but have since learned of things we had no idea about,” officials with Preparing a People said in a statement posted on the group’s website. “We did not know Lori as well as we thought we knew Chad.
"In light of current concerning media reports and ongoing criminal investigations regarding the recent death of Lori Vallow’s previous husband in Arizona, and the sudden death of Chad Daybell’s previous wife in Idaho, and with new reports of Lori’s missing children and the death of Lori’s brother-in-law, and the unknown whereabouts of Chad and Lori, we feel it inappropriate to promote any media content that may feature or contain references to either Chad Daybell or Lori Vallow.”
Authorities continue to investigate.
Original report: Authorities believe the siblings’ disappearance might be connected to the Oct. 19 death of Tammy Daybell, a 49-year-old woman who was believed to have died of natural causes at her home in Fremont County. She was buried in Utah, but her body was later exhumed after authorities got information suggesting her death might be suspicious.
Officials said Tammy Daybell’s widower, Chad Daybell, married Lori Vallow within weeks of the 49-year-old’s death.
Acting on requests from Lori Vallow’s out-of-state relatives, officers attempted in November to conduct a welfare check on Joshua Vallow. Investigators said they spoke with Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell, who claimed Joshua was staying with a family friend in Arizona.
Police said they later learned Joshua Vallow was not in Arizona.
“They’ve told us several stories about where the children are, but when we investigate, the children don’t exist where they say they should be,” Chief Shane Turman told EastIdahoNews.com. “We don’t know where they are at, but we think they are in pretty serious danger.”
On Nov. 27, one day after police interviewed Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell, investigators conducted search warrants in Rexburg to try to find Joshua Vallow, without success. During the searches, authorities learned Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell had abruptly left Rexburg, prompting officials to solicit the FBI for help in finding the 7-year-old.
"Further investigation has determined that Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell did not appear to have Joshua with them when they left Rexburg," police said Friday in a statement.
Authorities determined Joshua Vallow, who attended Kennedy Elementary in Rexburg, hadn’t attended school since Sept. 23. They said they also learned Lori Vallow had a daughter, Ryan, who had been living with her, but who had also not been seen since September.
"Investigators have contacted several members of the children's extended family, but no one has been in contact with the children since September," police said. "Additionally, the children have not been reported missing to any law enforcement agency, and attempts to obtain the cooperation of Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell in locating the children have been unsuccessful."
Joshua Vallow is described as a boy around 4 feet tall who weighs 50 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Ryan is described as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl around 5 feet tall and 160 pounds.
Authorities asked that anyone with information on the siblings’ whereabouts contact Rexburg police at 208-359-3000 or call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.
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