LOCAL NEWS

Aunt of missing Idaho girl addresses disappearance for first time

Feb 9, 2020, 7:54 PM | Updated: Apr 2, 2023, 6:51 pm

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The aunt of missing Idaho girl Tylee Ryan spoke about the teenager’s disappearance for the first time since she and 7-year-old JJ Vallow were reported missing out of Rexburg, Idaho, in Dec. 2019.

Annie Cushing said her brother and Tylee’s father, Joseph Ryan, died of an apparent heart attack without anyone knowing and she doesn’t want the same fate for her 17-year-old niece.

Vallow and Tylee Ryan came from a blended family and until Sunday, only JJ’s relatives had spoken to the media.

Cushing said the last time she saw Tylee was in 2018, after Joseph Ryan’s death.

She said her brother’s marriage to Lori Vallow got off to a joyful start.

“They were just madly in love. I had never seen Joe that happy,” Cushing said.

Joseph Ryan and Lori Vallow. (Courtesy Annie Cushing)

Tylee was Vallow’s second child and Joseph Ryan’s first.

“My brother had never been married and he had never had a child, so he was over the moon,” Cushing said.

Joseph Ryan with his daughter, Tylee Ryan. (Courtesy Annie Cushing)

However, Cushing said the relationship soured and Ryan had a difficult, and at times, violent temperament. The couple divorced after four years of marriage in 2004 when Tylee was 18 months old.

Vallow would later marry Charles Vallow, her fourth husband, in Feb. 2006.

However, Cushing said she and Lori Vallow maintained a close bond, sending each other pictures of their children. She said they didn’t speak very often but “(Vallow) felt a lot like a sister.”

Ryan and Vallow had lived in Texas. Vallow moved to Arizona with her two children, Tylee and Colby, her older son from another marriage, after she married Charles Vallow.

Ryan also moved to Arizona to be closer to Tylee. Court documents indicated the couple had a long and bitter custody battle over Tylee.

Cushing said it wasn’t until her brother’s death in late March 2018 that she noticed a drastic change in Lori Vallow.

Cushing said Ryan died of an apparent heart attack in late March 2018. His body was found in his apartment after a welfare check when the neighbor’s dog detected a strange smell.

Joseph Ryan, “super uncle,” drives with Annie Cushing’s children in the back. (Courtesy Annie Cushing)

“It’s really sad that someone could die and go at least a week without being discovered,” Cushing said.

Cushing said Vallow was notified of Ryan’s passing but didn’t tell his family. She only learned of her brother’s death five weeks later because no one had claimed his body. She said officials ran a background check and called her brother.

Cushing said Vallow acted very casual about Ryan’s death.

“That really took me back, I thought ‘you knew and didn’t tell me?” she said.

However, Cushing said Lori asked her to visit Arizona to support Tylee.

“I decided to put my personal feelings aside about not being told about Joe’s death and I flew out there, hoping to connect with Tylee,” Cushing said.

When she arrived in Arizona, Cushing said she was shocked to find that Vallow discouraged Tylee from mourning her father’s death.

“When I got there, it was as if, nothing had happened,” she said. “People were hardly talking about Joe and when Lori did, the tenor was — she would actually say, ‘the world is a better place without Joe Ryan.’”

Cushing said she also noticed Tylee and Vallow had a strained relationship.

“There was also a lot of tension between Tylee and Lori,” Cushing said, adding that Vallow didn’t allow the two to spend much time together alone.

Cushing sent several texts to her daughter during and shortly after her visit.

“I just couldn’t wait to get out of there,” Cushing said, “The place was so dark.”

“Our family called (Lori) ‘Lolo’ and I said I think Lolo might be a sociopath,” Cushing said.

Cushing said Lori had always been religious but became obsessed with end-of-times ideas.

“It’s like she wanted me to be afraid of the end times,” Cushing said. “There was one time where she was talking about it and she says, sometimes, I think it would be better just to get put my kids in a car and go off the side of a cliff.”

“It was absolutely exhausting. I dealt with so many lies, even with little things. I think she’s [Lori’s] unhinged and untethered from truth,” Cushing texted her daughter on May 24, 2018.

“That’s what makes me feel Lori was a sociopath. To her, this was all a game. She had no empathy for the suffering anyone else was experiencing, including Tylee,” Cushing said.

Cushing said she was so shaken that she decided to cut ties with Vallow after the visit.

“I just left exhausted from the constant campaigning [against Joseph Ryan] and Lolo’s out-of-control ego. But I feel trapped. I connected with Tylee but don’t want anything to do with Lolo ever again.” Cushing said in the text message thread.

KSL also uncovered court documents from Aug. 2007 of Tylee’s custody battle with disturbing information. A Texas court ordered a psychological evaluation for Vallow after she told social workers that “death would be an option before giving Tylee to her father, Mr. Joseph Ryan, even for a visit.”

“These are real and serious concerns,” the documents stated.

One of Cushing’s biggest concerns was since Tylee was homeschooled, she doesn’t know the exact date of her disappearance.

“We know when JJ was last seen but nobody seems to know when Tylee was last seen,” Cushing said.

JJ was last seen in school on Sept. 23, 2019, the day before Tylee’s 17th birthday. Officials with the Rexburg Police Department said Vallow and her new husband, Chad Daybell never reported them missing.

Daybell was Vallow’s fifth husband.

Police noticed Tylee’s disappearance on Nov. 27, 2019, and executed a search warrant at Vallow’s new home in Rexburg, Idaho, during a welfare check on JJ.

Anyone with information about this case was asked to contact the Rexburg Police Department at 208-359-3000.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Close to 70 people signed to speak at the Salt Lake City Council Meeting, where the public could vo...

Dan Rascon

First public hearing on controversial ‘revitalization’ plan for downtown Salt Lake City

A very late night for Salt Lake City council members as the first public debate over the revitalization plan for downtown took place.

4 hours ago

Khloee’s life took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with scoliosis, a condition where th...

Angie Denison

Khloee’s journey: Overcoming scoliosis with courage and cheer

Khloee’s life took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with scoliosis, a condition where the spine curves abnormally.

7 hours ago

UTA is eyeing FrontRunner expansion further into Utah County with possible future stations in Sprin...

Alex Cabrero

UTA eyeing FrontRunner expansion further into Utah County

Growth is why the Utah Transit Authority is talking about expanding FrontRunner further south into Utah County with three new stations in Springville, Spanish Fork, and Payson.

7 hours ago

(Shelby Lofton, KSL TV)...

Shelby Lofton

New Box Elder County solar farm is one of several new clean energy sites in Utah

A new 80 megawatt solar farm in Box Elder County will supply energy to several Utah cities across the state. 

7 hours ago

Salt Lake County heard from the public Tuesday, regarding the upcoming revitalization project. (KSL...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Abravanel Hall renovation funding to be determined as residents plead for preservation

Funding for major Abravanel Hall renovations has not yet been identified as its future remains uncertain amid ongoing discussions over a proposed "sports, entertainment, cultural and convention district" surrounding a renovated Delta Center.

8 hours ago

BEIJING, CHINA - MAY 26: Democratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi attends talks wi...

Jessica Donati, Hannah Schoenbaum and Michael Biesecker, Associated Press

Congo names third American in a foiled coup plot as mourners gather in Utah to remember plot leader

Congo’s army spokesman has released the name of the third American involved a foiled coup plot in Kinshasa.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Aunt of missing Idaho girl addresses disappearance for first time