REXBURG, Idaho (ABC4 News) – Following extradition from Hawaii, Lori Daybell, the mother of two missing children appeared in court Friday for the first time in Madison County, Idaho.
Also in attendance were Larry and Kay Woodcock, the biological grandparents of 7-year-old JJ Vallow, who has been missing since September along with 17-year-old Tylee Ryan.
“I feel like we have a long ways to go. This is a marathon. The race is not 100 yards. This is a long-term project. We can somewhat remember the Casey Anthony case. Parallel that to this, except I think it’s a bigger case by far,” said Larry.
Larry and Kay have been two of the most vocal family members about the siblings’ disappearance, offering a $20,000 reward back in January for information leading to their whereabouts.
“Sooner or later, they’re going to have to say something. She can’t continue to hide. The kids have rights too. Not just her,” said Kay.
After Lori’s hearing, family members addressed media in a press conference outside the courthouse. Colby Ryan, Lori’s older son said it was a whirlwind of emotions for him to see his mother in court for the first time in Rexburg.
“Just seeing her, trying to lock eyes, trying to get a connection with your mom, knowing she hasn’t had the kids for a long time, it was really hard. There’s no words for it,” he said.
Colby said the last time he had talked to his mother was right before Thanksgiving to tell her that detectives were looking for JJ and Tylee. He said that her behavior now is inexplicable for him and he plans to visit with her.
“I don’t know how her mind works anymore. I used to be able to call her anytime, talk to her anytime about anything and that’s not the case anymore,” said Colby. “My mom never abandoned us. My mom never didn’t take care of us, didn’t not do everything for us.”
Larry said he was not surprised by Lori’s calm and unconcerned demeanor in court or how she was wearing a fresh coat of makeup.
“If she went to take an ID photo, a driver’s license, or anything else, she never looked bad. That’s just not Lori. That’s never been her way. She always wants to look her best. She was a beautiful woman,” he said.
In Friday’s hearing, the judge lowered Lori’s bail to $1 million, prompting questions about whether the Woodcocks were concerned that she would make bail and get released from jail.
“It’s not about whether I like Lori or Chad. I don’t care what the judicial system does or doesn’t do to Lori. This is about finding two children. I want everybody to please keep that in mind,” said Larry.
He added, “If Lori gets free tomorrow, she’s free. But tell us where the kids are. That’s all what I want to know […] Anything more than that is just simply pudding on the cake.”
Family members spoke of JJ and Tylee with belief that the siblings were still alive. Lori’s new husband, Chad told an ABC affiliate in Hawaii that the children were safe without further elaborating on what he meant.
“He (JJ) is my heart, he is my grandson. Tylee is not my blood, but I love her just like she’s mine. Tylee is welcome in our home at any time if Tylee chooses to come live with us. She will be welcome, and she will be part of our family,” said Larry.
The FBI and the Rexburg Police Department have asked that anyone who visited Yellowstone National Park on September 8, 2019 to submit any photos or videos they might that could help with the case. Investigators said JJ and Tylee were last seen there on that date with their mother, Lori and uncle, Alex Cox.
The Woodcocks said they will be traveling back to their home in southern Louisiana after Friday’s hearing, but they will be back in Idaho for her next hearing on the 18th.
“Kay and I are not going to back off one moment from this case, not one moment. But we will absolutely appreciate the court for what they have done, what they are doing, and what they’re going to do in the future,” said Larry.
He went on to say, “The law will take care of them. The court system will take care of them, and I think, the court system will take care of the children.”
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