In September 2019, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan disappeared under circumstances that stumped officials. The children’s parents never reported the minors missing, yet their family members heard nothing from them in the months that followed. And as the investigation pressed on, the case became increasingly convoluted.
That November, law enforcement visited the home of JJ and Tylee’s mother, Lori Vallow, to perform a welfare check on the children, according to the New York Times. Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, told police the children were living in Arizona, leaving authorities suspicious; when law enforcement arrived the next day with a search warrant, they discovered that the couple had abruptly fled. Authorities later located them in Hawaii, where police finally arrested Vallow in February 2020 — months before investigators found JJ and Tylee’s remains on Daybell’s property. Both were subsequently charged for felonies, though not immediately for murder. That didn’t happen until May 2021, when a grand jury indicted Vallow and Daybell for the children’s deaths, as well as the death of Daybell’s first wife.
Here’s everything we know about the case.
Vallow’s children went missing in September 2019.
Last November, extended family notified law enforcement in Rexburg, Idaho, that they hadn’t been able to get in touch with JJ and Tylee since September. In response to the alert, Rexburg police visited Vallow’s home, where she was living with Daybell, to question them about the minors’ whereabouts. According to police, the couple claimed the children had moved to Arizona, where they were living with other relatives, and requested that law enforcement return at a later date. When investigators showed up the following day, the couple had fled.
In a statement in early January, Rexburg police said, “We strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives are in danger.”
A few months later, the couple was discovered in Hawaii.
On January 25, 2020, police located Vallow and Daybell driving near a beachside resort in Kauai. Police searched their car but found no trace of the children, and served Vallow with a court order demanding that she bring the children to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare by January 30 or face legal action. According to the Times, Vallow missed the deadline.
On February 20, Kauai police arrested Vallow on a $5 million warrant from Madison County, Idaho. She has been charged with two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children; arrests and seizures — resisting or obstructing officers; criminal solicitation to commit a crime; and contempt of court — and willful disobedience of court process or order, per the Kauai police department.
Last June, police found human remains belonging to JJ and Tylee at Daybell’s house.
In June 2020, local law enforcement and the FBI traveled to Daybell’s home, where they executed a search warrant, East Idaho News reported. In the ensuing hours, police took Daybell into custody and confirmed that human remains had been found on his property. Days later, police announced that the remains belonged to JJ and Tylee.
The next day, Daybell was officially charged with two felony counts of concealment or destruction of evidence.
According to CNN, a probable cause affidavit filed on June 29 in Fremont County, Idaho, described JJ’s body as “well-preserved,” wrapped in a double-layer of plastic and buried under rocks. Tylee’s body was “too damaged by fire and dismemberment and no longer had any recognizable features,” per the affidavit, and identified through an x-ray of her jawline.
Vallow and Daybell both received felony charges, though not for murder.
In September, Special Prosecutor Rob Wood asked district judges to combine the couple’s cases. Vallow was charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to alter, conceal, or destroy evidence, and three misdemeanor counts of resisting or obstructing officers, a solicitation to commit a crime, and contempt of court; Daybell was charged with four felony charges of conspiracy to and destruction of evidence.
Both pleaded not guilty.
Murder charges followed in May 2021, with a grand jury’s indictment.
Nearly a year after the remains were found, an Idaho grand jury indicted them on multiple murder-related charges on May 25, 2021. Each reportedly faces two counts (one for Tylee and one for JJ) of conspiracy to commit first degree murder and grand theft, as well as first degree murder. Additionally, Vallow faces one count of grand theft for the children’s social security benefits, while Daybell faces two other charges in connection with another death.
A number of other people close to the couple have mysteriously died.
While JJ and Tylee were reported missing in September 2019, bizarre occurrences involving the couple date back to that July, when Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed Vallow’s estranged husband, Charles Vallow. At the time, detectives ruled the shooting a self-defense. That August, Vallow, her children, and Cox moved to Rexburg, Idaho, where Daybell joined them at the end of the month. Then, in December, Cox died of what the Times refers to as “unknown causes.”
There was a mysterious death on Daybell’s side of the family as well. On October 19, 2019, Daybell’s wife, Tammy Daybell, died of natural causes, according to her obituary. Approximately two weeks after her death, Daybell and Vallow were married. According to the Times, law enforcement has since exhumed Tammy’s remains, and has also performed tests on Cox’s.
In May 2021, Vallow and Daybell were reportedly also indicted on the charge of conspiracy to commit first degree murder in Tammy’s death, while Daybell was charged with first degree murder and two counts of insurance fraud, for allegedly collecting on her life insurance policy.
The couple’s doomsday beliefs have come to light.
As the couple came under investigation, some of their beliefs raised eyebrows — notably, their involvement in Preparing a People, a doomsday-prepper group. In fact, one of Vallow’s friends told Fox 5 that Vallow was “100 percent into the end of times,” and found herself drawn to Daybell through the fictional doomsday books he had written.
Additionally, in divorce documents that Charles Vallow filed before his death, he claimed that Vallow believes she is “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020,” according to the Times.
This article has been updated.