Case of the Missing Idaho Kids: A Timeline in the Disappearance of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan

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It's been more than seven months since 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and his sister, Tylee Ryan, 17, were last seen. The disappearance of the two siblings from Rexburg, Idaho, and their mother's refusal to help find them has sparked a nationwide search. 

It's also led investigators to reexamine a number of suspicious deaths and events surrounding the children's family. 

The children's mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, was arrested in Hawaii and extradited to Idaho, where she remains in jail on $1 million bond and faces numerous charges, including two counts of felony desertion of a child.

Both Lori and her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, have denied all allegations of wrongdoing, and Chad has not been charged with a crime. Lori's attorney, Mark Means, has declined InsideEdition.com's requests for comment. 

Here is a timeline of what we know about the case. 

February 2019

Lori's fourth husband, Charles Vallow, accused her of changing his password and locking him out of his $1 million life insurance policy, according to multiple emails he sent to his sister, Kay Woodcock, and the life insurance company. 

In the emails, Charles describes how he believes Lori changed the password on his life insurance account without his permission, locking him out of it when as he was trying to change the beneficiary from Lori to Kay, who is the biological grandmother of Charles and Lori's adopted son, Joshua "JJ" Vallow. 

"I request an investigation as I believe it's my soon to be ex-wife who fraudulently placed a password on the account. I want to change the beneficiary to my sister, Ethel Kathleen Woodcock," Charles wrote in an email dated Feb. 25, 2019. "I have an order of protection against Lori Vallow as she has physically threatened me in the past 30 days." 

Charles' sister, Kay Woodcock, told InsideEdition.com she believes that the life insurance policy had "everything to do with Charles' death." Charles switched the beneficiary to Kay months before he was shot and killed by Lori's brother. 

"I think if he wouldn't have had that life insurance, he would be alive and they would be divorced, and that would be that," Kay told InsideEdition.com.

July 11, 2019

Charles was shot and killed by Lori's brother, Alex Cox, at the Chandler, Arizona, home where JJ and Tylee were living with Lori. Charles had come to pick up JJ. 

Alex told police he acted in self-defense when he shot Charles, according to body cam footage released by the Chandler Police Department. Alex also claimed Charles came at him with a baseball bat after fighting with Lori and that Tylee had tried to defend her mother with a bat, according to the footage.  

Alex was not charged in the incident. 

July 12, 2019

KSAV-TV obtained text messages the station said Lori sent to Charles Vallow's sons the next day telling them he had died. 

"Hi boys. I have very sad news. Your dad passed away yesterday. I'm working on making arrangements and I'll keep you informed with what's going on. I'm still not sure how to handle things. Just want you to know that I love you and so did your dad!!" Lori wrote to Vallow's sons, according to KSAZ-TV. 

But when the sons texted and called Lori to ask what had happened, she waited hours to respond and was not forthcoming about the circumstances around his death, according to KSAZ-TV.

Cheryl Wheeler, Charles Vallow's ex-wife and the boys' mother, told EastIdahoNews.com she was with her son when he received the message. 

“I checked the medical examiner’s webpage and found Charles had been killed the day before, and they had it classified as a homicide,” Cheryl told the website. "We further Googled and saw all of the news reports out of Chandler. We found out that Alex (Cox, Lori’s brother) had shot him.”

August 2019 

Colby Ryan, Lori's oldest son, told KSAZ-TV that in August 2019, Lori told him she was moving to start a new job but she didn't tell him where, and then his contact with his mom and Tylee dropped off. 

Lori also returned JJ's specially-trained service dog to its trainer.

Neal Mestas recently told Inside Edition that he had trained a Goldendoodle puppy named Bailey for JJ, and the two became very close. 

"Bailey just helped him stay calm," Mestas said. "Was a comfort to him as well. One of the things that JJ really struggled with and the family struggled with was him sleeping through the night. He would get up and often times even try and sneak or wander out of the house. And so, when we first introduced Bailey to the home, that was one of the first nights that JJ stayed in his bed and slept through the night."

But Mestas said Lori told him they would be giving the dog back before their move to Idaho. When he inquired further about why they were giving the dog back, he said, Lori told him it was too hard to talk about. 

August is also the last time JJ's biological grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, said they last spoke to him. While JJ used to speak with his grandparents all the time, the last time they FaceTimed with JJ, Kay said it seemed like someone else was holding the device and the call lasted less than a minute. The couple never heard from JJ again. 

“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 said during a Jan. 7 press conference.

Sept. 3, 2019

Lori enrolled JJ at Kennedy Elementary School in Rexburg, the school's principal, Josh Wilson, told EastIdahoNews.com.

Sept. 5, 2019

Lori told JJ's former school, Laurens Institute for Education, also known as LIFE Academy, in Gilbert, Arizona JJ would not be coming back to school this year, according to emails obtained by KTVB

"Since the circumstances in our lives have changed drastically since my husband passed away last month. I have been offered a job out of state and have had to accept it. we have had to move quickly since the job started asap. so I’m sad to inform you that Joshua won't be returning this year," the email from Lori read, according to KTVB. 

Sept. 8, 2019 

Tylee and JJ visited Yellowstone National Park with their mother, Lori, and their uncle, Alex. That trip was the last time anyone saw Tylee.

The FBI has asked anyone who was at the park on Sept. 8 to submit "photos and video that may assist in the investigation" into the siblings' disappearance. Agents also shared a photo of Alex's silver 2017 Ford F-150 pickup truck and its license plate, CPQUINT. The FBI has set up a special tips page for the case here

Sept. 23, 2019 

JJ is last seen at his elementary school in Rexburg, Idaho.

Although September 23 was initially listed as the day both JJ and Tylee were last seen in Rexburg, according to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Tylee's aunt, Annie Cushing, expressed her concerns to KSL-TV that Tylee could have been missing for longer because she was homeschooled. 

"We know when JJ was last seen but nobody seems to know when Tylee was last seen," Annie told the station before the FBI released new photos from the Yellowstone trip. 

Sept. 24, 2019

Lori unenrolled JJ from Kennedy Elementary School, explaining she planned to homeschool JJ, the school's principal told EastIdahoNews.com

Once JJ was unenrolled, he was no longer tracked by the school, because "Idaho does not regulate or monitor home school education," according to the state's Department of Education.  

It was also Tylee's 17th birthday. 

Late September 2019 

A former friend and colleague of Chad Daybell said he spoke to her about his wife's death in a phone call three weeks before it happened. Julie Rowe is an author who published multiple books with Chad between May 2014 and March 2019 and knew his wife, Tammy. 

"Three weeks before Tammy dies, he said to me, and he was in this frustrated voice, 'My plan can't move forward until Tammy's dead,' or 'until Tammy dies,'" Rowe told InsideEdition.com, explaining she believes Chad was referring to his "life plan," or the plan that God had for him. 

"I felt darkness in it, I felt his frustration and his anger, and it was a big caution for me. It was enough of one that I talked to my husband about it, and I was very concerned," she added. 

Oct. 1, 2019 

Lori began renting a storage unit for $53 per month from Self Storage Plus, according to a contract reviewed by EastIdahoNews.com

Surveillance footage reviewed by EastIdahoNews.com appears to show Alex visit the storage unit multiple times.  

Oct. 2, 2019

Brandon Boudreaux, the ex-husband of Lori's niece, Melani, was shot at outside of his home in Gilbert, Arizona. 

"On October 2nd on my way home from the gym someone sat outside my home and shot a gun at me they hit my vehicle and missed my head by inches. I have reason to believe that this was related to all of the following events," Brandon Boudreaux wrote in a Facebook post on December 21. 

In a 911 call from the incident, Brandon can be heard telling the dispatcher, "someone just shot my window." 

Brandon described those events in the same Facebook post, writing that his wife, Melani, asked him for a divorce in June 2019 after spending time with Lori and "a new religious group, that we refer to as a 'cult.'"

The same day, a ring that appears to be the one Lori wore in her wedding pictures with Chad, was ordered from Amazon.com. The Oct. 2 Amazon order was placed 17 days before the death of Chad's first wife, Tammy, according to a screenshot from the Amazon.com account obtained by EastIdahoNews.com.

The ring was shipped to a Rexburg address where Lori was living at the time and billed to her late fourth husband, Charles. 

Oct. 10, 2019 and Oct. 16, 2019

In October, two Venmo payments were made from Tylee's account to her brother, Colby Ryan. The memo for one payment on Oct. 16, 2019 is a heart emoji, and the message for another payment from Oct. 10, 2019 reads "we love you." 

Colby Ryan previously told KSAZ-TV his mom used Venmo to transfer money within the family. 

"My mom is not tech-savvy, so Tylee's account for Venmo was the account she used to transfer money to us," he told the station. Whether Tylee or Lori made the transfers is unknown.

Oct. 19, 2019 

Tammy, 49, was found dead in her home, police said. Her death was initially believed to be from natural causes. A later investigation "determined that [Tammy] Daybell's death may be suspicious," according to police. Her body was exhumed and an autopsy was performed, the results of which are still pending. 

A few weeks later, Chad and Lori Daybell married. 

Lori and Chad Daybell are now under investigation by the Idaho Attorney General's office for "conspiracy, attempted murder and/or murder" in Tammy's death. Neither Chad nor Lori have been charged with any crime in connection to Tammy's death. 

October 31, 2019 and Nov. 1, 2019

Rich Robertson, an Arizona-based private investigator with R3 Investigations, told InsideEdition.com that he observed Alex and Melani packing things from her house in Chandler, Arizona, into a U-Haul on October 31 and November 1 before driving up to Rexburg. Robertson said he watched as Melani, a mother of four young children, and Alex discarded children's items on the curb. 

Robertson was hired by Melani's ex-husband, Brandon, to find Melani and Cox after he said he had been targeted in a drive-by shooting on Oct. 2. Brandon believes Alex is the man who shot at him.

At the time, Melani's kids were with Brandon, who had gone into hiding after the shooting, according to a Facebook post he wrote. The couple is involved in an ongoing custody dispute over their children. 

Early November 2019

When Melani and Alex unloaded the U-Haul in Rexburg, Robertson said, one of his agents observed that while they saw Lori, JJ and Tylee were nowhere to be seen. 

"It was during that period that we realized we were seeing all the adults—Lori Vallow, Alex Cox, Melani Boudreaux—but we weren't seeing the kids. We weren't seeing JJ or Tylee," Robertson said. "At that point, Kay Woodcock [JJ's grandmother] contacted the Rexburg Police Department and asked for a welfare check on the kids." 

Nov. 26, 2019

Authorities performed a welfare check on Chad and Lori Daybell's home after being contacted by Kay. Lori and Chad tell police that JJ is staying with family friends in Arizona, but investigators learn this is false. 

Nov. 27, 2019

Police returned to Lori and Chad's home to ask questions about the missing children and find that they have "abruptly vacated their residence and left Rexburg." 

Police obtained a warrant to search the home and the storage unit Lori had rented, EastIdahoNews.com reported

"Inside the storage unit, officers found bikes, a scooter, winter clothing, a photo album with pictures of JJ and Tylee, sports equipment, a backpack with JJ’s initials and a jersey with Colby Ryan’s (Lori Daybell’s oldest son) name on it. There were blankets showing photos of the children – one focused on JJ, and the other had pictures of Tylee," EastIdahoNews.com reported

Nov. 29 and Nov. 30, 2019

Like Lori, Melani and Alex married other people after arriving in Rexburg, Robertson said. Marriage certificates show Melani married Ian Pawlowski on Nov. 30 and Cox married Zulema Pastenes on Nov. 29.

In a document first obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, Ian describes Lori's alleged religious beliefs, including the existence of "zombies," "teleportation" and people who have been "possessed by a demon." 

Melani's attorneys say the document was written by Ian after he met with law enforcement officers and contains "extremist" beliefs that Melani does not hold. 

Among those beliefs are the existence of "translated beings" who "may, with the Lord's permission, teleport" and zombies who "have had their original spirits forced from them and have been possessed" by a "demon," "disembodied spirit" or a "worm/slug."

In the document, Ian wrote that Melani told him she was concerned that Alex might have had something to do with the disappearance of JJ and Tylee. 

"Melani had been told by Chad and Lori that their children had been possessed and had become zombies," Ian Pawlowski wrote. "She shared concerns that she's been told Brandon [Boudreaux] needed to die and that may indicate that Tylee and JJ needed to die as well.

"She told me she was worried that Al [Alex Cox] may have had to 'take care' of the kids. She explained that Al had great faith and never wavered in his trust in the Lord. No task would be too difficult or great for him. When I asked for clarification, she restated her concern verbatim." 

Dec. 12, 2019 

Alex was found unconscious inside his home. 

A transcript of the 911 call obtained by KTVB shows that the person calling police said Alex was his mother's boyfriend and that he was not breathing. Alex later died. 

His death is currently under investigation. 

Dec. 19, 2019

Lori and Chad were named persons of interest in the children's disappearance. Both deny any wrongdoing. 

Dec. 20, 2019

The Rexburg Police Department announced their search for JJ and Tylee, adding that the FBI had joined in the investigation. 

Dec. 23, 2019

An attorney for Chad and Lori, Sean Bartholick, issued a statement on their behalf. 

“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," Bartholick wrote in the statement.

Bartholick also reportedly said that he does not have any information about the missing children. The couple has not issued another statement since. 

Jan. 3, 2020

Investigators seized 43 items from Chad's home, including computers, cell phones, journals, documents and medications, EastIdahoNews.com reported.

Jan. 25, 2020

A child protective action was filed on behalf of JJ and Tylee, and Lori was served with the order in Princeville, a city in Hawaii, by the Kauai Police Department.

The order gave Lori until Jan. 30 to physically produce the children to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in Rexburg or to the Rexburg Police.

Chad was with her in Hawaii when the order was served, but the children were not and "there is no evidence that Tylee and J.J. were ever in Hawaii," according to the Madison County, Idaho Prosecutor’s Office. 

The Kauai Police Department also "served a search warrant on the vehicle and persons of Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow," according to the statement. Neither Chad nor Lori were arrested or charged with a crime. 

That same day, Nate Eaton, a journalist with EastIdahoNews.com, confronted Lori and Chad about the children's whereabouts. 

"Where are your kids?" Eaton asked the couple on camera shortly after they were stopped by police. 

"No comment," Lori told Eaton as she and Chad walked away. 

Jan. 30, 2020

Lori failed to produce the children to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in Rexburg or to the Rexburg Police by the deadline set forth in the child protective action. Lori's failure to comply with the order opened her up to potential civil or criminal contempt of court, according to the Madison County, Idaho Prosecutor’s Office.

JJ's grandmother said she didn't expect Lori to appear. 

"Show us the kids and end this craziness! It’s not hard to do," Kay told InsideEdition.com at the time.

Feb. 10, 2020

News breaks that Tylee's cellphone was found. The phone was allegedly discovered in her mother's possession in Hawaii, CBS News reported. Idaho authorities have previously said "there is no evidence" that Tylee and JJ "were ever in Hawaii." 

Feb. 20, 2020

Lori was arrested by the Kaua'i Police Department and charged with two counts of felony desertion of a child, misdemeanor charges of resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime and contempt, according to the prosecuting attorney for Madison County in Idaho.

Lori was held on $5 million bond at the Kaua'i Police Department Detention Facility pending extradition back to Idaho. 

The maximum sentence on each count of desertion of a child is 14 years in prison.

Chad has not been arrested or charged with a crime and both he and Lori have denied any wrongdoing.  

March 5, 2020

Lori arrived in Rexburg accompanied by law enforcement officers after her extradition from Hawaii.

That same day, the FBI released new photos of Tylee and JJ from their Sept. 8 trip to Yellowstone National Park and asked anyone who was at the park on Sept. 8 to submit "photos and video that may assist in the investigation" into the siblings' disappearance.

March 6, 2020

Lori appeared in court in Idaho for the first time. 

Magistrate Judge Faren Eddins granted her attorneys' request to have her bail reduced from $5 million to $1 million, explaining that the new amount factors in Lori's failure to comply with a previous court order to show her two children to authorities by the Jan. 30 deadline. 

"One specific thing that the court notes in setting such a high bail amount is that there is a pending court order," Eddins said. "And to my knowledge, there has been nothing set forth regarding obedience to that court order pertaining to providing the court with information on where the two children are at the Department of Health and Welfare or at the Rexburg Police Department." 

Following the judge's decision, JJ's biological grandfather, Larry Woodcock, spoke with reporters outside the courthouse. He emphasized that he and his wife, Kay, just want to know where JJ and Tylee are, saying Tylee, who is not biologically related to him, was also welcome to stay with his family if she chose. 

"If Lori gets free tomorrow, she's free. But tell us where the kids are. That's all I want to know. Tell us where the kids are," Larry said. 

March 13, 2020

Eddins, the judge presiding over the case stepped down after Lori's attorney filed a motion to disqualify him. Under Idaho Criminal Rule 25, both the defendant and the state have the right to file a motion to disqualify a judge. 

During that same hearing, one of Lori's attorneys, Brian Webb, told Eddins via telephone he would be filing a motion to withdraw, along with attorney Edwina Elcox. Mark Means is now the sole attorney representing Lori.

Means also filed a waiver to delay her preliminary hearing, and Lori is now scheduled to appear on May 7 and May 8 before Magistrate Judge Michelle Radford Mallard. In the meantime, she remains in jail on $1 million bond

April 9, 2020

The Idaho Attorney General's office confirmed that Lori and Chad are under investigation for "conspiracy, attempted murder and/or murder" in the death of Chad's first wife, Tammy. 

The attorney general's office confirmed in an April 9 letter that it would be taking over the investigation from Fremont County Prosecutor Marcia Murdoch at her request. The letter was first obtained and published by EastIdahoNews.com. Neither Chad nor Lori have been charged with any crime in connection to Tammy's death. 

How the public can help

The Rexburg Police Department asks anyone with information regarding the children's whereabouts or welfare to contact the department at 1-208-359-3000 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST.  

JJ has brown hair and brown eyes, is 4 feet tall and weighs 50 pounds. He has autism and "may be in need of medical attention," according to authorities. Tylee has blonde hair and blue eyes, is 5 feet tall and weighs 160 pounds. 

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