PHOENIX - A bombshell revelation in the case of Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell, over a week after the remains of two missing children with Arizona ties were found in Daybell's backyard in Idaho.
Interactive Timeline: Searching for JJ & Tylee
Lori Vallow's children, Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan, were last seen in September 2019. The disappearances 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 extradited back to Idaho, where a judge set a $1 million bail.
Chad, meanwhile, has pleaded not guilty to felony destruction and concealment of evidence charges. No murder charges have been filed yet in JJ and Tylee's deaths, and both Chad and Lori have preliminary hearings in July.
Investigators release details of what led them to the children's bodies
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When Idaho authorities and the FBI discovered JJ and Tylee’s remains, police say Chad watched from his daughter’s home across the street, before driving off in his SUV. Officers quickly pulled him over and arrested him.
Now, an 11-page affidavit reveals how investigators found the remains of the two children.
Police say the children’s now-dead uncle, Alex Cox, moved to the same townhome complex as his sister, Lori Vallow. The FBI believes he made four separate trips to Chad's property in September, and GPS data from his cellphone puts him in an area on the north edge of the Daybell property.
Nearly nine months later, in that same area of the property, the FBI found a patch of disturbed ground about four by two-and-a-half feet. Investigators removed sod, rocks and two pieces of flat paneling, where they discovered JJ’s body wrapped in plastic, secured with duct tape.
The next site was just a few feet away, near the Daybell’s fire pit.
Neighbors tell police there have been frequent bonfires over the last few months, and investigators found cat and dog remains buried there. As they dug deeper, however, a much more gruesome discovery: charred tissue and charred bones that were later determined to be human remains.
According to the affidavit, FBI investigators also analyzed Tammy’s phone. Tammy died on October 19, and was buried soon afterwards. At the time Tammy died, her death was determined to be of natural cause. However, Tammy was exhumed on December 11. The autopsy and toxicology reports have still not been released. In April, FOX 10 reported that Idaho's Attorney General's Office is taking over a case on Tammy's death.
In a text conversation between them on the morning of September 9, Chad says he shot a big raccoon along the fence now in their pet cemetery. Alex is placed at the property 15 minutes before Chad’s text is sent. Investigators never mention finding remains of a raccoon.
A key player in the case, Melanie Gibb, who was Lori’s best friend at the time. Police say Gibb told investigators Lori believed JJ and Tylee had become ‘zombies.’ According to Gibb, Chad and Lori’s mission was to rid the world of ‘zombies,’ calling themselves ‘Leaders of the 144,000,’ a part of the ‘Church of the Firstborn.’
The affidavit says Gibb and her boyfriend, David Warwick, saw JJ on the night of September 22 while visiting Lori, They say JJ had been acting up before Alex took him to his apartment. Alex eventually came back carrying a sleeping JJ.
According to authorities, that’s the last time JJ was seen alive.