An Arizona dog trainer says he may have been one of the last people to see 7-year-old JJ Vallow before he and his sister Tylee Ryan, 17, went missing last September.
Neal Mestas, of Gilbert, told Inside Edition that he trained a service dog, a Goldendoodle puppy named Bailey, for JJ, who has autism. He said he knew the family when they lived in Arizona and was "puzzled" when the dog was returned to him prior to their move to Idaho.
"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."
The children's mother, Lori Vallow, allegedly returned the dog to Mestas just days before JJ and Tylee vanished, Mestas said. When he inquired further about why they were giving the dog back, he said, Vallow told him it was too hard to talk about.
Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, were found last month in Hawaii, and she did not produce the children by the Jan. 30 deadline set by authorities in Rexburg, Idaho.
The couple has been identified as persons of interest in the children's disappearance, but neither have been charged and both deny any wrongdoing.
On Monday, authorities found Tylee's cell phone in her mother's possession in Hawaii, CBS News reported.