Lori Vallow Daybell's Sister Says Daybell 'Can't Tell Us' Where the Kids Are Because Jail Calls Are Recorded
Janis Cox and Summer Shiflet sat down for their first interview with 48 Hours.
Lori Vallow Daybell's mother and sister have broken their silence, saying Lori "can't tell" them where her missing children are because her phone calls are being recorded in jail.
Lori's mother, Janis Cox, and her sister, Summer Shiflet, spoke about the case for the first time with 48 Hours. Lori's two children, Tylee Ryan, 17, and Joshua "JJ" Vallow, 7, have been missing since September and their disappearance is the subject of a multi-state investigation involving the FBI.
When the children's grandmother and aunt were asked by CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti where the kids are, Janis replied: "That's a great question."
"She can't tell us," Summer added. "She's in jail, everything's recorded. She can't discuss anything about the case."
Since December, police have repeatedly said Lori knows where the children are or what happened to them, but has refused to help authorities find them. Tylee was last seen on a trip to Yellowstone National Park Sept. 8, and JJ was last seen at his school in Rexburg, Idaho, on Sept. 23.
In the 48 Hours interview, Janis claims she spoke to JJ on Oct. 1, showing Vigliotti what she said are phone records proving that there was a 97-minute call to Lori's number. The records, of course, do not show who was speaking on the phone at the time.
"I talked to him, he just takes the phone, you know? And he knows who we are," Janis said of her 7-year-old grandson.
Oct. 1 was also the day Lori began renting a storage unit in Idaho where some of the children's belongings were later discovered, according to a contract reviewed by EastIdahoNews.com.
The search for JJ, who has autism, was launched by his paternal grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, after they said they repeatedly tried to reach him in the weeks after JJ's father, Charles Vallow, was shot and killed by Lori's brother, Alex Cox. Alex claimed he fired in self-defense in the July 11 shooting and was not charged in the incident.
But while Kay and Larry said JJ used to speak with them all the time, the last time they FaceTimed with JJ in August, 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.
Kay and Larry asked police in Rexburg to perform a welfare check on JJ, which they conducted on Nov. 26, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by the Rexburg Police Department. But while police found Lori, Alex and her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, at the home, JJ and Tylee were not there and haven't been seen since, police said.
When Rexburg police returned to Lori's home to ask questions about the missing children the next day, they found that they had "abruptly vacated their residence and left Rexburg."
Both Summer and Janis said Lori never expressed resentment about her children.
"She's invested her whole life in those children, so we know there's another whole side to this, we don't know what it is. But we know her," Janis said.
"I'm positive beyond any doubt that she hasn't harmed those kids," Janis added.
Lori married her fifth husband, Chad, on Nov. 5, weeks after the death of his first wife, Tammy. Chad and Lori are now under investigation by the Idaho Attorney General's office for "conspiracy, attempted murder and/or murder" in her death. Neither Chad nor Lori have been charged with any crime in connection to Tammy's death and both deny all allegations of wrongdoing.
Lori's brother, Alex, died on Dec. 12, and his death, as well as the deaths of Tammy and Charles, are all currently under investigation.
Lori was arrested in Hawaii on Feb. 20 and extradited to Idaho. She is currently being held on $1 million bond in jail in Rexburg, and faces two counts of felony desertion of a child in the disappearance of Tylee and JJ, as well as misdemeanor charges of resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime and contempt, according to the Madison County, Idaho prosecutor's office. Lori has pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
Summer is Lori's only living sister; they also have a living brother, Adam Cox, who was investigated in the 2007 death of a woman who participated in a radio contest he hosted but was never criminally charged.
"I have to see my family slaughtered on the news every day, this mob mentality of calling for Lori to be just hung in a public square, basically, is what it feels like," Summer told 48 Hours of her sister's case.
Lori's preliminary hearing has been rescheduled twice, and is now set to take place on July 9 and 10.
The search for JJ and Tylee continues. The Rexburg Police Department asks anyone with information regarding JJ and Tylee'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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