5 Things To Know About Lori Vallow And The Investigation Into The Death Of Her Children

The Idaho mom’s son and daughter disappeared without a trace in September 2019. Their remains were found buried in shallow graves in June 2020.

Updated on May 12, 2023

Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan [NCMEC/Associated Press]

Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan [NCMEC/Associated Press]

By: Crime Feed Staff

In late September 2019, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17, seemed to vanish into thin air. When police began investigating their disappearances at the urging of extended family, the kids’ mom, Lori Vallow, and her new husband, Chad Daybell, abruptly vacated the family’s home in Rexburg, Idaho.

On Nov. 26, 2020, Rexburg police officers attempted to conduct a welfare check on Joshua, Vallow’s adopted son who has special needs. Vallow, 49, and Daybell, 54, claimed the boy was with a family friend in Arizona, but investigators determined that that wasn’t true. The couple was gone when cops went back to their home the next day, NBC News reported.

After a months-long investigation into the missing children, their remains were found buried in shallow graves on Chad Daybell's property in June 2020. Daybell and Vallow were charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of the children.

In May 2023, Vallow was found guilty of murdering her children and conspiring to kill her husband’s former wife.

Here are five things to know about Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and the investigation into the childrens' death.

The couple was tracked down in Hawaii and Vallow was arrested

Investigators located Vallow and Daybell in Kauai, Hawaii, and a Madison County prosecutor in Idaho filed a child protection order on behalf of the missing kids on Jan. 25, 2020. In a statement obtained by NBC News, the Kauai Police Department said they had served Vallow with the order, which required the mom to “physically produce her children to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare” by Jan. 30.

"KPD's desire is to continue to assist the Rexburg police in whatever way we can with their efforts to locate the missing children," said Kauai Police Chief Todd G. Raybuck. "It's our sincere hope that the children have a safe return."

Rexburg police claimed Vallow knew what happened to her children but she and Daybell had refused to cooperate with the investigation.

On Feb. 20, 2020, police in Hawaii, acting on a warrant issued in Madison County, Idaho, took Vallow into custody in Princeville, Kauai in connection with the investigation into the disappearance of her two children. She was charged with two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children.

The couple is supposedly involved in a cult

Those close to Vallow and Daybell had grown concerned about the couple’s unorthodox religious beliefs and interest in the world ending.

In divorce documents filed in February 2019, Charles Vallow alleged his ex-wife believed she was "a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020,” USA Today reported.

Daybell, who wrote and published several apocalyptic novels, claimed he previously died and was able to have visions of the future, according to Boise’s KBOI-TV.

"Nothing with Lori right now makes sense," Larry Woodcock, Joshua’s biological grandfather, told ABC News, adding that the Vallow he once knew "is not the same person that is here on Earth today."

Vallow and Daybell were linked to several suspicious deaths

After Vallow’s kids went missing, police began digging deeper into several deaths linked to the couple.

Vallow’s estranged husband, Charles Vallow, 62, was killed in July 2019 after her brother, Alex Cox, shot him to death during a fight in her home. Cox claimed self-defense at the time. Cox, 51, passed away on Dec. 12, 2019. A medical examiner determined Cox died of natural causes, according to Idaho News 6.

On Oct. 19, 2019, just weeks before Vallow and Daybell were married, his first wife, Tammy Daybell, died in her sleep at age 49. Her death was initially determined the result of natural causes, but police have since ruled it suspicious. Her body was exhumed in December 2019, but the official cause of death has not been released publicly, according to FOX 10.

Vallow did not cooperate with the investigation, failed to prove her children were alive

According to the Rexburg Police Department, the court ordered Vallow to present her children to police in Idaho by Jan. 30, 2020, or face possible civil or criminal contempt of court, ABC News reported.

JJ's grandmother, Kay Woodcock, said, at the time, she was frustrated and baffled by the ongoing case.

“I'd love to know where those kids are and I think all of America wants to know where they are," Woodcock said at a Jan. 30 press conference.

She added: “How do you not have your child for four months? What kind of a mother does that? The only word that is coming to my mind right now is ‘monster’ and as much as I loved Lori…all this has just been very disheartening and I have so many questions.”

Vallow and Daybell were charged with murder after the childrens' remains were found

On June 9, 2020, a search warrant was executed at Daybell's home in Fremont County, where two sets of human remains were found. Idaho police later confirmed the remains were those of Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan.

Shortly after the remains were found, Daybell was taken into police custody. He has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder, a count of conspiracy to commit murder, and two counts of conspiracy.

Vallow was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of conspiracy in the deaths as well as grand theft for collecting government benefits on behalf of her children after they were killed.

On May 12, 2023, after a six-week trial, a jury found Vallow guilty on all counts of killing her two children and conspiring in the murder of her husband’s ex-wife. She faces up to life in prison without parole.

For more on this case, stream Doomsday: The Missing Children on discovery+.

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