PHOENIX - Detectives with the Phoenix Police Department are now taking a second look at the death of Lori Vallow's third ex-husband, Joseph Ryan.
Joseph Ryan was the father of Tylee Ryan, whose body, along with the body of Joshua "JJ" Vallow, were found on an Idaho property belonging to Chad Daybell.
The disappearances of JJ and Tylee, and the eventual discovery of their remains, have led to the uncovering of a complicated sequence of events, including details surrounding the death of Charles Vallow, the former husband of Lori, details of unorthodox religious beliefs that included allegations of cult membership, and details surrounding the death of Chad's former wife, Tammy Daybell.
In late January, Idaho authorities say a child protection action was filed on behalf of JJ and Tylee, and that a court has ordered Lori to physically produce the two children to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in Rexburg within five days of being served with the order. Lori, ultimately, failed to obey the court order.
Lori was subsequently arrested and accused of child abandonment, resisting/obstructing an officer, solicitation to commit crime and contempt of court. She was eventually extradited back to Idaho.
Ryan's death was ruled natural
As of 2020, it has been more than two years since Joseph Ryan died. At the time, officials with the Medical Examiner's Office ruled that Ryan died of natural causes, from a heart attack. However, Phoenix Police officials are now reviewing the case, after a recording of Lori surfaced.
Audio of Lori from October 2018 allegedly captures her talking about her religious beliefs, but more specifically, it also reportedly captured a disturbing statement about Joseph.
"I was going to murder him. I was going to kill him, like the scriptures say, like Nephi, just to stop the pain and to stop him coming after me and to stop him coming after my children," Lori was heard saying.
On Apr. 3, 2018, months before the recording was made, Joseph died in his Phoenix apartment. Phoenix Police spokesperson, Sgt. Mercedes Fortune, says the death investigation is now getting a second look.
"Just looking at it again, reviewing it and making sure that there's things that maybe could have been overlooked that are being looked into now," said Sgt. Fortune.
The police report says Joseph's neighbor smelled a strong odor, and noticed flies inside the apartment. A maintenance worker couldn't get in through the front door because of an engaged secondary lock, so he used a ladder to access an open window by the balcony. Police say Joseph, who was 59 at the time, had been dead for a couple days, and was in advanced stages of decomposition. There were no signs of forced entry. Joseph was cremated.
"To this moment, there isn't any additional information that will lead investigators to believe there was foul play," said Sgt. Fortune.
Police did contact Lori, who was listed as next of kin, more than a week after the discovery. The report says she told officers she had not heard from her ex-husband in two years
Lori, Joseph had custody battle
The history between Lori and Joseph goes back more than a decade, with a custody battle over Tylee. The custody battle over their daughter stems back to Austin, Texas. Keith Taniguchi represented Joseph for a couple of years, and says Lori accused his client of sexually abusing Tylee when she was very young.
According to court documents from 2007, a therapist said she was concerned that Tylee was "being pushed by her mother to make an outcry."
"Tylee kept saying the same thing until one day, Tylee recanted," said Taniguchi.
Taniguchi says investigators never found DNA evidence to prove the allegations, but Joseph later faced financial challenges. Emails between the parents reveal an audit claiming Joseph overpaid child support by more than $9,000. He wanted litigation to end.
"[Lori] put an obstacle on every step of the road," said Taniguchi,
Another hurdle was visitation rights. In August 2007, Alex Cox, Lori's brother, tased Joseph with a stun gun after a supervised visit with Tylee. Cox pled guilty to aggravated assault, and served three months in jail.
"Now, how Alex would know about a visitation that just got announced the day before, in a location that's not a normal location, can only lead you to the conclusion that Lori told him," said Taniguchi.
Taniguchi said he let Joseph stay at his home before he ultimately moved to Phoenix. Taniguchi says Tylee was Joseph's whole life, and the fight to raise her drained Joseph mentally and financially.
"Poor Tylee, growing up with that kind of -- starting from the second year of your life, and you've been now being part of a conspiracy to deprive him of his visitation with her, it's just tragic," said Taniguchi.
Both Lori and Daybell are in Idaho jails, waiting for a combined jury trial that has been moved to July of 2021. Both are accused of conspiring to conceal evidence. However, there are no murder charges filed at this point.
Meanwhile, Idaho's Attorney General is also investigating both of them for the death of Daybell's first wife, Tammy, and Chandler Police are looking into Lori in connection with the death of her most recent ex-husband, Charles Vallow's.