Editor’s note: This timeline was originally published Jan. 17. It has been updated with the latest events.
REXBURG — Police seem to be no closer to finding 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan than they were when this story began months ago.
Since that time, the story has gained international attention as it’s taken twists and turns involving a purported cult, dead spouses, delusions of divinity and preparing for the end of the world. Despite all the angles, and the ever-growing number of people related to the case, the facts remain essentially the same as when it was first announced.
The two children remain missing and the parents, Lori (Vallow) Daybell, and her new husband, Chad Daybell, refuse to disclose their whereabouts to police. Both have been named persons of interest in the disappearance of the children. Law enforcement is also investigating the deaths of the Daybells’ previous respective spouses, Charles Vallow and Tammy Daybell, though neither Chad nor Lori have been named suspects in those cases.
The following is an interactive timeline of events unfolded during the course of the investigation: click here
Written timeline of events
- Chad and Tammy Daybell married on March 9, 1990, in Manti, Utah, according to her obituary. The couple lived in Springville, Utah, where they founded Spring Creek Book Company, through which Chad Daybell, an author, published many of his books. The couple had five children before moving to their home in Salem, Idaho, in 2015. Tammy Daybell worked as a school librarian.
- In 2006, marriage records show Lori married her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. Lori came to the marriage with her kids, including Tylee, the daughter of her third husband Joseph Ryan Jr. Family members say that in 2014, Charles and Lori Vallow adopted Joshua “JJ” Vallow. He is the biological grandson of Charles’ sister Kay Woodcock, who is married to Larry Woodcock.
- Social media posts indicate that sometime in 2014, the Vallows moved to the island of Kauai in Hawaii. The couple operated a small business on the island, as indicated by business records. The family then moved back to the mainland between 2016 and 2017.
- While the Vallow family lived in Arizona, Tylee’s father, Joseph Ryan, died on April 3, 2018. According to a copy of the medical examiner’s report obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, the cause of death was ruled as a heart attack. He was cremated, but little other information is available about his death.
- Almost one year before the public announcement of the cases, Chad Daybell and Lori made their first appearance together on the Preparing a People Podcast Network’s “Time to Warrior Up.” The two appeared with others on several of the podcast, many of which talked about the end of the world. Preparing a People has since removed the podcast and publicly dissociated itself from Chad and Lori Daybell.
- Two months after the podcast began, Charles Vallow filed for divorce from Lori in February 2019, claiming she viewed herself as a god preparing for the second coming of Christ, according to court documents obtained by Fox10 Phoenix. Charles Vallow also claimed in these documents that his wife would kill him if he got in her way to perform that mission. The divorce proceedings were latter stopped after Charles said he wanted to make the marriage work.
- During divorce proceedings, the family says Lori disappeared in February for nearly two months, leaving the children with others. It remains unclear where she went during those weeks before returning to the children.
- Around June, Lori Daybell’s niece, Melani Boudreaux, demanded a divorce from her husband, Brandon Boudreaux, as first reported by Fox13 Salt Lake City. Brandon Boudreaux claims his then-wife affiliated herself with similar beliefs as her aunt and had joined “a cult.” The demands for a divorce came as a shock to Brandon Boudreaux as he thought their marriage to be in a good place.
- On July 11, 2019, the Chandler Police Department in Arizona discovered Alex Cox shot and killed Charles Vallow. Although police are still investigating, detectives initially ruled the shooting as self-defense. By the end of August 2019, Lori Vallow Daybell, the children, Cox and Melani Boudreaux moved to Rexburg, Idaho.
- Once in Rexburg, Lori Vallow Daybell enrolled JJ in school on Sept. 3, 2019, Kennedy Elementary School Principal Josh Wilson told EastIdahoNews.com. Just three weeks later, on Sept. 23, 2019, JJ last attended class, and the following day his mother unenrolled him, saying she would homeschool the boy. Police say Tylee was also last seen in September, but it remains unclear where. The family says she wasn’t enrolled in school since she graduated early.
- On Oct. 1, 2019, Lori Vallow Daybell rents a 10×10 storage unit from Storage Plus in Rexburg. Surveillance cameras at the facility show Daybell and a man associated with her visited the unit nine times in October and once in November. Often the man, who appears to be Alex Cox, Daybell’s brother, came alone.
- On Oct. 2, 2019, Brandon Boudreaux said he was shot at with the bullet missing his head by inches. Arizona Central reports the shooter was driving a Jeep registered to then-dead Charles Vallow.
- Days later on Oct. 9, 2019, Tammy Daybell called 911 and said a masked man shot at her with a paintball gun. She wrote about her experience in a Facebook post, saying she has no idea what the motive was.
- Ten days later, the family called 911 saying Tammy Daybell died in her sleep at their Salem home. Detectives visited the home, investigators ruled the death as natural. Tammy Daybell was buried at the Evergreen Cemetary in Springville, on Oct. 22, 2019. The family held a memorial service in Rexburg the following day.
- A friend of Tylee told the Post Register she received a text from Tylee’s number on Oct. 25. The newspaper reports the text read ““hi. miss you guys too luv ya.”
- The Rexburg Police Department said in a news release that within weeks of Tammy Daybell’s death, her husband, Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell, were married. It’s believed the couple married in Hawaii before returning to Rexburg. Over the coming weeks, Rexburg police say Chad Daybell told witnesses that Lori Daybell had no minor children. Police also say Lori Daybell told people Tylee died years ago.
- On Nov. 26, 2019, the Rexburg Police Department conducted a welfare check for JJ at the request of the extended family who had not spoken with the boy in months. Police did not see JJ at the townhome at 565 Pioneer Road and said the Daybells told them JJ went to stay with someone in Arizona. When checking the story, police determined JJ never stayed with who the Daybells said.
- The next morning — Nov. 27, 2019 — the Rexburg Police Department is asked to serve a search warrant at the request of Arizona authorities. A Madison County Sheriff’s dispatch log indicates a phone pinged at the 565 Pioneer Road townhomes at that moment. The log also indicated the call related to a missing 7-year-old, now known to be JJ, and “homicide” investigations in Arizona. When police arrived, they discovered the Daybells had “abruptly” left.
- As deputies uncovered more details, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office began calling Tammy Daybell’s death suspicious. Investigators exhumed Tammy Daybell’s body on Dec. 11, 2019, to perform an autopsy in Utah. The results of the autopsy are pending.
- On Dec. 12, 2019, Alex Cox, the brother of Lori Daybell dies under mysterious circumstances in Gilbert Arizona. Little is known about his death as investigators await results from an ongoing autopsy.
- On Dec. 20, 2019, the Rexburg Police Department went public on their search for JJ and Tylee. Police also say the children’s disappearance is possibly linked to the suspicious death of Tammy Daybell. The following day, police then call Chad and Lori Daybell persons of interest in the kids’ disappearance.
- The Monday following the announcement on Dec. 23, 2019, the attorney representing the Daybells, Sean Bartholick, of Rigby, Andrus & Rigby, released a statement. Bartholick called the parents loving and devoted. He said they will address the allegations once they move beyond rumor and speculation.
- One week after the public announcement, Rexburg Police Assistant Chief Gary Hagen told EastIdahoNews.com that investigators are no closer to finding JJ and Tylee. He also said investigators are using every tool available to find the missing kids.
- On Dec. 30, 2019, the Rexburg Police Department issued an updated news release, saying “we also have information indicating that Lori knows either the location of the children or what has happened to them.” They called the parents’ lack of cooperation astonishing as the couple left the state rather than help law enforcement.
- Local investigators and the FBI served a search warrant on the Daybell home in Salem on Jan. 3. Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries said investigators recovered 43 items, which included computers, cell phones, journals, documents and medications. These were sent to labs for further analysis.
- As investigators continued to look for the kids, JJ’s grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock, traveled to Rexburg from their home in Lake Charles, Louisiana, to meet with investigators. While in town, the Woodcocks held a news conference to announce the $20,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the kids. “These are beautiful young children. They’re two extremely intelligent young children, and we want them back. We want them back in our family,” Larry Woodcock said. “We don’t say the ‘D word.’ We don’t want to and we’re not going to because we truly believe and we hope and pray these kids are alive.”
- Chad Daybell’s brother, Matt Daybell, pleads for him to cooperate with the investigation on Jan. 10. The brother said Chad Daybell’s immediate family had little association with the author due to concerns with his religious claims and particular books he published, “including his own.”
- Fox10 Phoenix obtains records, including body camera footage detailing the moments after Alex Cox is believed to have shot and killed Charles Vallow. In police reports, portions of Cox’s and Lori Daybell’s story contradict one another, the TV station reports.
- On Jan. 25, the Kauai Police Department serves Lori Daybell with a notice that she must produce JJ and Tylee to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare or Rexburg Police Department in five days. The Madison County prosecutor says this notice, as well as all other details of the case, remain sealed under Idaho law.
- EastIdahoNews.com flew to Kauai and on Jan. 26, approached Chad and Lori Daybell after police stopped them at the Kauai Beach Resort. Law enforcement seized the couple’s rental car and searched their rental townhome in Princeville, Hawaii.
- On Jan. 29, Kay and Larry Woodcock file for guardianship of JJ in the Madison County Magistrate court. This comes as the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare conducts its own investigation into the children’s safety. According to a copy of the Child Protection Order obtained by EastIdahoNews.com the department has until Feb. 10 to deliver their report to a judge.
- On Jan. 30, Lori Daybell misses the 5 p.m. deadline to produce JJ and Tylee to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare or the Rexburg Police Department. At 5 p.m. Kay Woodcock addressed the media how the case is progressing and about what’s next.
- On Feb. 3, EastIdahoNews.com visits the storage unit where Lori Vallow Daybell abandoned several of the kids’ items. Inside the storage unit, officers found bikes, a scooter, winter clothing, a photo album with pictures of JJ and Tylee, sports equipment, a backpack with JJ’s initials and a jersey with Colby Ryan’s (Lori Daybell’s oldest son) name on it. There were blankets showing photos of the children – one focused on JJ, and the other had pictures of Tylee.
- On Feb. 12, Kay Woodcock tells EastIdahoNews.com that in February 2019, her brother, Charles Vallow, removed his wife, Lori Daybell, from a $1 million life insurance policy. Woodcock was named the sole beneficiary. The Woodcocks also appeared in court for a custody hearing on Feb. 12 in Madison County and did not discuss what occurred during the hearing.
- On Feb. 14, Dateline NBC aired a two-hour special called ‘Where are the Children?’ focused exclusively on this case.
Help find the children
JJ is a 7-year-old with brown hair and brown eyes. He is 4 feet tall and weighs 50 pounds. Tylee is a 17-year-old with blond hair and blue eyes. She is 5 feet tall and weighs 160 pounds.
Lori Vallow Daybell is 46 years old, and has blond hair and blue eyes. She weighs 125 pounds and is 5 feet, 6 inches tall. Chad Daybell is 51 years old, and has brown hair and blue eyes. He weighs 230 pounds and is 6 feet, 3 inches tall.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the children is asked to contact the Rexburg Police Department at (208) 359-3000, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at (800) THE-LOST.