Police release gruesome details in investigation of Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell

Jun 19, 2020, 5:47 PM | Updated: Apr 11, 2023, 12:55 pm

REXBURG, Idaho – Idaho police have released a probable cause statement providing new details into the investigation and disappearance of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan.

Police say data from Alex Cox’s cell phone helped them identify areas to search on Chad Daybell’s property, where human remains were located earlier this month.

In the probable cause statement, officials said Cox, Lori Vallow’s older brother, remained at Daybell’s property for over two hours on Sept. 9, 2019.

Cell phone GPS data led local and federal officials to two areas, one of which was near a pet cemetery.

Tammy Daybell’s sister, Samantha Gwilliams, told police she was aware of the pet cemetery and identified its location when shown an aerial photo of the property.

Gwilliams said both she and her sister were pet lovers and had pet cemeteries.

The area was located near a fire pit, where Cox’s phone was pinged.

Neighbors told KSL Daybell had multiple bonfires in his yard between the time the children went missing and when he was arrested.

“During a search of this ground, buried cat and dog remains were found,” police said. “A backhoe was used to dig further layers of dirt. While doing this, bricks were located approximately foot below the ground.”

Officials said two bones were located under the bricks. Based on the bones condition, Anderson was not able to tell if they were human or not.

Police searched the surrounding dirt and said “several other items of interest were found including other bones, charred tissue and charred bones.” Cheryl Anderson, associate professor of anthropology at Boise State University, “indicated these additional bones, both charred and uncharred and tissue found, were human remains.”

Photos of the additional remains found were shown to Dr. Sara Getz, a forensic anthropologist, who said the remains were non-adult human remains.

Police said the other location matched where Cox’s phone was pinged on Sept. 23, the day after JJ was last seen.

Several large, flat rocks were found under a patch of disturbed ground about four feet by two-and-a-half feet long.

Under the rocks, police said an object wrapped in black plastic and duct tape was located.

Officials also noted a strong odor coming from the object after the rocks were removed.

Police made a small incision in the plastic and observed a layer of white plastic underneath. That layer was cut into, exposing what Anderson identified as human remains.

Chad Daybell watched police search the area from a vehicle in his front driveway and across the street at his daughter’s residence. Police said Daybell was detained in a routine traffic stop after he left his daughter’s residence, due to the fact that human remains were found on his property.

Read the full document here.

Police: Lori Vallow Called Children ‘Zombies’

In the document, police said Tylee was last seen in Yellowstone National Park on Sept. 8, 2019.

The last verifiable sighting of JJ was Sept. 22, 2019, in his mother’s Rexburg apartment by her friend Melani Gibb.

Gibb has been cooperating with police in Idaho and Arizona during the investigation, officials said.

Lori Vallow moved to Rexburg on or around Sept. 1 and police said her brother, Alex Cox, lived in the same complex. Initially, Cox lived in the same unit as Vallow before moving to a separate unit.

Gibb told police she visited Vallow at her new residence between Sept. 19 and 23, where Vallow allegedly told Gibb that JJ had become a “zombie.”

“Gibb further reports that the term ‘zombie’ refers to an individual whose mortal spirit has left their body and that their body is now the host of another spirit,” police said in the probable cause statement. “The new spirit in (a) ‘zombie’ is always considered ‘dark spirit.’ While the ‘dark spirit’ inhabits the host body, the person’s true spirit goes into ‘limbo’ and is stuck there until the host body is physically killed.”

Gibb said Vallow “pointed out behaviors such as sitting still and watching tv, claiming JJ said he loved Satan, and an increased vocabulary as evidence that JJ was now a zombie.”

Gibb told police she thought the behavior was normal for JJ, who had autism.

She also reported Vallow had called Tylee a zombie during a phone call in the spring of 2019.

“Lori Vallow also told Gibb that Tylee had turned into zombie when she was 12 or 13, which was approximately the same time Tylee had become ‘difficult’ to deal with,” police said.

Police said Gibb was present in Arizona when Chad Daybell taught the belief to Lori Vallow, in reference to her former husband Charles Vallow.

Charles Vallow was killed on July 11. He had stopped by to pick up JJ at the Arizona home where Lori Vallow was living with the children, and police said a confrontation ensued and Charles Vallow was shot and killed by Cox.

Cox claimed he fired in self-defense.

Body camera footage released by Arizona police showed Charles Vallow warning officers about his wife’s strange behavior months before he died and the children went missing.

“She has lost her mind, I don’t know how else to say it,” he told officers. “We’re LDS (Latter-day Saints). She thinks she’s a resurrected being and a god. She threatened to murder me, kill me.”

Gibb further told police Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow believed they were part of the “Church of the Firstborn” and their mission in the church was “to lead the ‘144,000’ mentioned in the Book of Revelation. They also stated their mission was to rid the world of ‘zombies.'”

Last Sighting Of JJ Vallow

During the investigation, police said they learned JJ had been enrolled at Kennedy Elementary School in Rexburg during the first week of September.

School officials said they were crafting a new individual education plan for JJ, who had an IEP at his previous school.

JJ had an unexcused absence on Sept. 23, according to the Madison School District. Lori Vallow called the district the next day and said her son would be going to Louisiana and staying with his grandparents until the end of October, or maybe later.

Then, on Oct. 29, district officials told police they received a call saying JJ would be homeschooled.

Police said they never found any homeschooling evidence during searches of Lori Vallow’s apartments in Hawaii or Idaho, and no school district has ever requested JJ’s records from the Madison School District.

During Gibb’s visit to Rexburg, she and her boyfriend, David Warwick, were preparing a podcast late on Sept. 22.

Warwick said JJ was acting up, and Cox took him to his apartment in the complex.

“When Alex returned later that night, he was carrying JJ, who appeared to be asleep with his head on Alex’s shoulder,” police said. “Warwick specifically remembered this because he saw it as a tender moment.”

The next morning, Gibb told police she asked Lori Vallow where her son was.

Vallow responded by saying “JJ had been acting like a zombie and had been crawling on the kitchen cabinetry and had gotten on top of the cabinetry in the space between the cabinetry and the ceiling,” police said. “She informed Warwick and Gibb that when JJ had climbed upon the cabinetry that he had knocked a picture of Jesus off the refrigerator.”

Vallow then told Gibb and her boyfriend Cox had come and taken JJ.

Cox’s phone was pinged near a pond on Chad Daybell’s property on the morning of Sept. 23.

Police searched that area on June 9 and uncovered a black bag with what authorities identified as human remains, under several large, flat rocks.

Last Sighting Of Tylee Ryan

Tylee Ryan was last seen after driving to Yellowstone National Park in Cox’s Ford F-150 on Sunday, Sept. 8.

Police said cell phone data placed Cox at a restaurant in West Yellowstone, Montana, that evening. According to the probable cause statement, Cox then drives back to Rexburg, arriving around 8:37 p.m., before visiting Lori Vallow’s apartment.

Cox returned to his apartment at midnight before returning to Vallow’s apartment, at 2:42 a.m. and remaining there until 3:37 a.m.

Police said Cox returns to his apartment around 4:30 a.m. before going to Daybell’s property before 9:21 a.m.

“The 09:21 reading is (a) GPS data point and places him behind the home on Daybell’s property near the east end of the barn,” police said, adding Cox remains at the property until 11:39 a.m.

During the investigation, police said FBI agents contacted them and said they were examining a phone believed to belong to Tammy Daybell.

The FBI said they found a conversation between Tammy and Chad Daybell, dated Sept. 9:

At 11:53 a.m., Chad to Tammy: “Well, I’ve had an interesting morning! felt should bum all of the limb debris by the fire pit before it got too soaked by the coming storms. While did so, spotted big racoon along the fence. hurried and got my gun, and he was still walking along. got close enough that one shot did the trick. He is now in our pet cemetery. Fun times!”

At 11:56 a.m., Chad to Tammy: “Gonna shower now and then go write for while at BYU. Love you!”

At 2:47 p.m., Tammy to Chad: “Good for you!”

At 2:48 p.m., Chad to Tammy: “I’m back home now”

Police said they found the conversation “suspicious because raccoons are normally nocturnal animals and are not regularly out during the day.”

Neighbor Matt Price told police he had asked Chad Daybell’s son, Garth Daybell, about a gunshot he heard, and Garth told Price his father had shot a raccoon.

Price’s wife also told police the fire pit had not been used very frequently.

However, the Prices said there were multiple bonfires in the pit over the last few months and the first one was shortly after Tammy Daybell died on Oct 19, 2019.

Police said Cox’s phone was pinged near the pet cemetery Daybell referenced in his texts to his wife.

“Chad sent the text to Tammy about burning debris and shooting and burying the raccoon in the pet cemetery only 14 minutes later at 11:53,” police said. “The pet cemetery referenced by Chad Daybell is located at the same location as most of the pings on Alex Cox’s phone on September 9, 2019.”

Police searched the area behind a red, unattached outhouse building near the fire pit on June 9. Authorities added the area was also used as the pet cemetery on the property.

Charred bones and tissues were found and later identified as non-adult human remains.

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Police release gruesome details in investigation of Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell