REXBURG, Idaho (ABC4 News) – The biological grandparents of missing 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and his sibling, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan are now offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to their whereabouts.
They were last seen in September. Their mother, Lori Vallow, and new husband, Chad Daybell, have not been cooperative with police, misled investigators on the children’s location, and have gone missing from their Rexburg home.
The relationships between all of the parties involved can be complicated and difficult to understand. According to family, Lori has been married four times and Chad is her fifth husband. Tylee is Lori’s biological daughter from a prior marriage with Joseph Ryan, who died from an apparent heart attack in 2018. He had been divorced from Lori for some time. JJ is her adoptive son and also the grandnephew of her husband from her fourth marriage, Charles Vallow.
Charles died back in July, after he was shot and killed while picking up JJ from Lori in Chandler, Arizona. Police said he was shot in self-defense and the man who pulled the trigger was Lori’s brother, Alex Cox. Alex later died on December 12th. The cause of his death has not been released.
Lori then married Chad, her third husband just a few months later in October. Chad had also recently lost a spouse. His prior wife of nearly 30 years, Tammy Daybell died in September of what was initially thought of as natural causes. She was buried in Springville, Utah where she and her family are from. But investigators later exhumed her body and began looking into her case as a suspicious death. It was previously linked to the children’s disappearance.
Ten days before Tammy died, she reported pulling in her driveway when a masked man came up and started firing an empty paintball gun at her. In a Facebook post, she said she asked the man what he was doing and he didn’t respond. She yelled for Chad to help her and the man took off.
In the weeks after Tammy’s death, police said that Lori and Chad made concerning statements to other people about their children, saying Tylee had died a year before the death of her father, which was not true. Around that same time, Chad reportedly told another person that Lori “had no minor children.”
The disappearance of JJ and Tylee
JJ and Tylee were last seen in September. The search began when officers conducted a welfare check on JJ, who they say has special needs. The next day when they returned to execute a search warrant, authorities said Lori and Chad had fled the home. Police believe they know where the children are or what has happened to them, but said they have ‘completely refused to assist’ with the investigation. Police said the couple lied to them and said JJ was staying with a family friend in Arizona.
“It is astonishing that rather than work with law enforcement to help us locate her own children, Lori Vallow has chosen instead to leave the state with her new husband,” Rexburg Police wrote in a statement.
On December 23rd, an attorney representing Lori and Chad said he had been in contact with the couple, but did not have any information on the whereabouts or welfare of the two missing children.
“Chad Daybell was a loving husband and has the support of his children in this matter. 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,” said attorney Sean Bartholick of Rigby, Andrus, & Rigby.
On Friday, East Idaho News reported 43 items of potential evidence were removed from the home of Chad and Lori Daybell in Salem, Idaho, including computers, cell phones, journals, documents and medications, which have been sent to forensic experts for examination.
On Sunday, Lori’s older son, Colby Ryan posted a video to YouTube, pleading his mother to reveal information about Tylee and JJ.
“I can’t tell you how hurt and frustrated and confused I am about what’s going on,” Colby said in a video posted on his YouTube channel. “You have the power to end this. You have an opportunity to put this all to rest.”
Family offers $20,000 reward
In a press conference Tuesday, JJ’s biological grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock flew in from Louisiana to Idaho to offer a $20,000 reward for information leading to his and Tylee’s whereabouts.
“We want them back. We want them back in our family,” said Larry. “We’re asking the public. Please, for God’s sake, anything anybody needs. Please, please step up, call authorities, call the fire station, call the police.”
The grandparents say until somebody tells them differently, they believe JJ and Tylee are still alive.
“These are beautiful young children. They’re two extremely intelligent young children and we want them back. We want them back in our family,” Larry Woodcock said. “We don’t say the ‘D word.’ We don’t want to and we’re not going to because we truly believe and we hope and pray these kids are alive.”
During the news conference, the grandparents said they do not know where Chad and Lori are and made an appeal to the children’s mother. They said she always had the “best interest at heart for JJ” until things slowly began changing two years ago.
“If there is anything that Lori can come forth with and help us, please do it,” Larry Woodcock said. “She knows how much we love these kids, and we want only the best for them. That’s it. It’s that simple. Please give them back to us.”
The Woodcocks often spoke with JJ and say he loved to Facetime with them. The last conversation with their grandson on August 10th was less than a minute. This did not worry them at the time, as he would often call them briefly. However, since then, they’ve tried to contact him repeatedly with no success.
“We don’t know why we weren’t allowed more access to him, but we reached out constantly in every way – email, voicemail, text, phone call, whatever – and never, ever got a response so that was very concerning to us,” Kay Woodcock said.
JJ loves to swim and is hardly afraid of anything in life, Larry Woodcock said. Tylee is a typical teenage girl who graduated early from high school and has a close group of friends.
The grandparents have launched the Find JJ and Tylee website in hopes of receiving tips from the public. They support law enforcement’s effort to bring JJ and Tylee home and hope the reward will help.
“All I want before I go is just to see those children,” Larry Woodcock said. “I just want to hear him beat on the drums, I want to hear him say, ‘Papa, let’s go ride’ or ‘Let’s go to Checkers and let’s go get a hamburger.’ I’m hoping beyond hope that that happens in the near future.”
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the children is asked to contact the Rexburg Police Department at (208) 359-3000 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at (800) THE-LOST.
To read more about the Daybell case, click here.
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