Case of mul­ti­ple deaths in­cludes cult ru­mors

Antelope Valley Press - - SECOND FRONT - By RE­BECCA BOONE

BOISE, Idaho — Two dead spouses, two miss­ing chil­dren and ru­mors of a cult. Con­fu­sion is grow­ing around a se­ries of mys­te­ri­ous deaths and the dis­ap­pear­ances of a 7-yearold boy and 17-year-old girl that tie back to a cou­ple who have since van­ished them­selves.

Joshua “JJ” Val­low and Tylee Ryan haven’t been seen since Septem­ber. Lori Val­low and her hus­band, Chad Day­bell, never re­ported them miss­ing and dis­ap­peared soon af­ter be­ing ques­tioned about the chil­dren. What has fol­lowed is a twisted tale span­ning two states that re­vealed the deaths of both their pre­vi­ous spouses, the cou­ple’s dooms­day be­liefs and chil­dren who slowly slipped away from rel­a­tives who are des­per­ate to find them.

“All I want be­fore I go is just to see those chil­dren,” grand­fa­ther Larry Wood­cock said Tues­day at a press con­fer­ence in Idaho an­nounc­ing a $20,000 re­ward for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to the kids.

Wife Kay Wood­cock’s brother, Charles Val­low, adopted JJ when he was a baby. Charles and his wife, Lori Val­low, also raised Lori’s daugh­ter from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship at their home in subur­ban Phoenix.

The Wood­cocks, who live in Lake Charles, Louisiana, vis­ited their grand­son of­ten and shared fre­quent phone calls and video chats when they couldn’t be there in per­son.

But things be­gan to change a few years ago, Kay Wood­cock said. Her brother con­fided that he feared Lori was cheat­ing on him with Chad Day­bell, an au­thor of sev­eral re­li­gious-themed fic­tion books about prophe­cies and the end of the world.

Charles Val­low even­tu­ally filed di­vorce doc­u­ments in an Ari­zona court last Fe­bru­ary claim­ing that Lori be­lieved she was “god as­signed to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s sec­ond com­ing in July 2020,” The Ari­zona Repub­lic news­pa­per re­ported. He also ac­cused Lori of threat­en­ing to kill him if he got in her way.

Lori Val­low and Day­bell did Prepar­ing A Peo­ple pod­casts run by a small mul­ti­me­dia com­pany that says it’s not a cult or even a group to join and dis­tanced it­self from the cou­ple’s be­liefs. It ad­ver­tises its lec­tures, pod­casts and videos as ready­ing peo­ple for the sec­ond com­ing of Je­sus Christ.

Charles and Lori Val­low’s di­vorce was never com­pleted — Charles was killed in July by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox. Cox told author­i­ties that the shoot­ing was in self-de­fense af­ter Charles Val­low hit him with a base­ball bat, but Cox died of un­known causes in De­cem­ber. Tox­i­col­ogy re­sults could take weeks.

Kay Wood­cock said Lori acted strangely when she told the fam­ily about Charles’ death, not men­tion­ing the cause. Af­ter the death, Kay and Larry Wood­cock said they had a harder time reach­ing JJ, speak­ing to him last in Au­gust.

That month, Lori moved to Rexburg, Idaho, with the kids. It brought her closer to Chad Day­bell’s home­town of Salem, Idaho, where he lived with his wife, Tammy Day­bell.

Two months af­ter Lori Val­low moved to Idaho, Tammy Day­bell died at her home. She was just 49, and her obituary said she died of nat­u­ral causes on Oct. 19. Po­lice would later ex­hume her body for a pend­ing au­topsy.

Two days be­fore Thanks­giv­ing, of­fi­cers vis­ited Lori and Chad to check on the chil­dren af­ter get­ting calls from wor­ried fam­ily mem­bers.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors later de­ter­mined JJ and Tylee had not been seen since Septem­ber, but

Lori Val­low and Chad Day­bell never re­ported them miss­ing.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said the cou­ple claimed JJ and Tylee were vis­it­ing rel­a­tives in Ari­zona. Af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the lie, in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­turned to the home the next day — only to find Lori and Chad had left town.

Lo­cal, re­gional and state author­i­ties are still search­ing for the cou­ple and the chil­dren, with help from the FBI.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Larry Val­low speaks Tues­day to mem­bers of the press at the Rexburg Stan­dard Jour­nal News­pa­per in Rexburg, Idaho.

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