Mother of 2 Idaho children missing since September is arrested in Hawaii
The disappearance of an Idaho boy and his teenage sister last year has led to the arrest of their mother in Hawaii, a major development in a bizarre case that spans multiple states, includes three mysterious deaths and touches on the mother’s doomsday beliefs.
Lori Vallow, 46, also known as Lori Daybell, was arrested Thursday on an Idaho warrant and was being held on $5-million bail, according to police on the island of Kauai. Vallow has been charged with two felony counts of child abandonment.
Seven-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan have not been seen since September. Police in the city of Rexburg, Idaho, have said they “strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives are in danger.”
Newly released court documents in eastern Idaho paint a bleak picture, with police saying Vallow lied several times about her children’s whereabouts and that JJ’s winter clothes and other belongings have been found in an abandoned storage unit. Rexburg police Lt. Ron Ball wrote in a court document filed this week that Vallow’s bank account shows no sign that she is providing money to anyone to care for the children.
Tylee hasn’t been seen since Sept. 8, Ball wrote. JJ was enrolled at a school for three weeks and was last seen alive there, shortly before Vallow told school workers that she was going to start homeschooling the boy.
“We have not been able to find any witnesses who have seen J.V. since September 24, 2019,” Ball wrote in a probable cause affidavit.
Police also have said Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, have lied about the children’s whereabouts and even their existence. Daybell told someone that Vallow had no children, and she told another person that her daughter had died more than a year earlier, authorities said.
Vallow must be extradited before she can face charges in Idaho, a process that often takes weeks. Kauai police said in a statement that she was expected to appear in court Friday but provided no other details.
“Vallow abandoned her two minor children, delayed law enforcement’s attempts to locate her children, and encouraged another individual to delay law enforcement’s attempts to locate her children,” referring to a friend of Vallow’s in Arizona, according to a statement from Madison County, Idaho, prosecutor Rob Wood’s office.
Vallow’s attorney, Sean Bartholick of Rexburg, Idaho, did not respond to phone and social media messages seeking comment. An email message to Daybell seeking comment was not immediately answered.
Vallow also is accused of disobeying a court order that required her to bring her children to Idaho authorities last month.
The tangled case includes investigations into three deaths. Vallow’s estranged husband, Charles Vallow, was shot and killed in Phoenix last July by her brother, Alex Cox. Cox, who claimed the shooting was in self-defense, died of unknown causes in December.
Lori Vallow moved her family to Idaho in late August. In October, Chad Daybell’s wife, Tammy Daybell, died of what her obituary said was natural causes. When Chad Daybell married Vallow roughly two weeks after Tammy’s death, law enforcement became suspicious and had her remains exhumed.
Test results on Tammy Daybell’s remains and toxicology results for Cox have not yet been released.
Vallow reportedly believes she is “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020,” according to divorce documents Charles Vallow filed before his death.
Chad Daybell has written several apocalyptic novels based loosely on theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both were involved in a group that promotes preparing for the biblical end times.
Police questioned Daybell and Vallow about the missing children in late November, and the couple left town before police returned the next day.
In December, Idaho authorities asked police on the Hawaiian island of Kauai for help finding the couple. On Jan. 26, Kauai police served a search warrant on a rented vehicle and condo the couple were renting in the resort town of Princeville.
Law enforcement plans to hold a news conference Friday about Vallow’s arrest and court appearance, police spokeswoman Coco Zickos said.
Idaho prosecutors said Vallow is charged with two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children and misdemeanor charges of resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court. The felony charges carry maximum prison sentences of 14 years in prison.
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