Mom of Missing Idaho Children Arrested in Hawaii on $5M Warrant and Charged with Child Abandonment
Lori Vallow's two children Joshua "J.J." Vallow, 7, and, Tylee Ryan, 17, were last seen in September.
Lori Vallow — the mother of two missing Idaho children — has been arrested in Hawaii and is being held on a $5 million bond.
The Kaua’i Police Department made the arrest on Thursday in relation to the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Rexburg Police Department in Idaho, KPD revealed in a press release.
A press release from the Madison County Prosecuting Attorney in Idaho states the maximum sentence on each count of desertion of a child is 14 years in prison.
At this time her two children: son 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and daughter Tylee Ryan, 17, remain unaccounted for and were last seen in September. Police in Kaua’i says there is “no indication” the children are on Kaua’i.
The Madison County press release alleges 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.”
Vallow’s arrest comes after she “failed to comply” with a court order to “produce” her children before police by Jan. 30 in Madison County in Idaho. Previously, Rexburg police alleged in a statement that Vallow “has refused to work with law enforcement to help us resolve this matter.”
“First of all, we wish to thank the public for the massive outpouring of concern regarding this case,” Kaua’i Chief of Police Todd G. Raybuck said in the press release. “We also want to thank everyone for their patience while investigators worked diligently to comprehensively gather everything they needed in order to obtain this arrest warrant.”
Vallow has been charged with two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children. She has also been charged with arrests and seizures — resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, and contempt of court — as well as willful disobedience of court process or order.
It is not immediately clear if Vallow has entered a plea. Her court date has not yet been determined.
Vallow Pulled Son from School in September
Police began asking the public for assistance in locating Vallow’s children back in December. That same month, The Rexburg Police Department requested the help of KPD to help locate Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell, a religious author who writes about prophecy and the end of the world.
According to investigators, J.J. was last seen attending classes at Kennedy Elementary School in Rexburg on September 23 — a school that he had attended for just three weeks.
In an email to the school that was shared with PEOPLE, Vallow said she was pulling J.J. out because the family had to “move quickly” so she could accept an out-of-state job offer.
Principal Josh Wilson told East Idaho News that he recalled Vallow coming to the school on Sept. 24, and telling administrators that she planned to homeschool the boy. She filled out the paperwork to disenroll him.
“It’s a common process,” Wilson told the newspaper. “There was nothing at the time that would cause us any alarm.”
According to East Idaho News, Vallow rented and later abandoned a storage unit in which she kept items that appeared to belong to the children.
Police say that she rented the unit on October 1, and was seen on surveillance video checking on the belongings several times. But when the credit card on file to pay for the unit was declined in January, the owner of the unit called police.
Once inside the storage unit, officers found bikes, a scooter, winter clothing, a photo album with pictures of J.J. and Tylee, sports equipment and a backpack with J.J.’s initials. There were also blankets showing photos of the children.
In addition to the case of the missing kids, authorities in several states are investigating a spate of suspicious deaths that have swirled around Daybell and Vallow in the past few months.
Daybell’s wife, Tammy, was found dead in October under suspicious circumstances. Vallow’s fourth husband, Charles, was shot to death in July 2019 by her brother, Alex Cox — and Cox was later found dead under mysterious circumstances.
It was during the investigation into Tammy Daybell’s death that police discovered the children were missing.
Grandfather Said Vallow ‘Belongs in Handcuffs’
The grandparents of the children have spoken out, telling PEOPLE they’re holding out hope the siblings will return safely.
“There are two phone calls I want to get right now,” says Larry Woodcock, the boy’s grandfather. “The first call is that they’ve been found right now. J.J. and Tylee are safe and they’re heading home. And the second call is that Lori and Chad Daybell have been arrested.”
Larry Woodcock says that Vallow’s lack of cooperation is egregious. “She didn’t comply with a court order,” he says. “She belongs in handcuffs.”
An older son of Vallow’s, Colby Ryan, had pleaded with his mother via a youTube video to safely return the missing children and end the uncertainty “for everybody, for the kids, for yourself, for all of us.” After seeing video of Vallow and Daybell in Hawaii without the kids, he then said he was “done” with his mother and her blatant refusal to cooperate with authorities.
Yet he also said in an interview with Fox10 Phoenix that he didn’t think Vallow would hurt his siblings. “I feel like my mom would die for the kids, so to see this and hear it, and also be questioning why they’re not being found, that’s where this all comes into a battle [between] what you think and what you feel,” he said after the couple first surfaced in Hawaii.
Vallow’s alleged obsession with end-of-times prophecies at one point in 2018 led her to voice a fantasy about driving herself and her kids off a cliff, according to Tylee’s aunt, Annie Cushing.
“It’s like she wanted me to be afraid of the end times,” Cushing told KSL TV, discussing a period after the death of Tylee’s father and Cushing’s brother, Joseph Ryan, who was divorced from Vallow. Recalling Vallow’s statements anticipating the end of the world, Cushing recalled, “There was one time where she was talking about it and she says, ‘sometimes, I think it would be better just to put my kids in a car and go off the side of a cliff.’”
• With reporting by STEVE HELLING