Case of multiple deaths includes cult rumors
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.
Larry Vallow speaks Tuesday to members of the press at the Rexburg Standard Journal Newspaper in Rexburg, Idaho.