Relatives of two missing children are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan.
Larry and Kay Woodcock, JJ’s biological grandparents, made the announcement in Rexburg, Idaho, on Tuesday after meeting with local and federal law enforcement. JJ Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17, haven’t been seen since September. Authorities said the children’s mother, Lori Daybell, and her new husband, Chad Daybell, have refused to cooperate with investigators and have repeatedly lied about where the children are.
“I’m hoping this will allow one person — one person — to simply say, ‘I saw them, I know where he’s at,’ so we can bring JJ, so we can bring Tylee back,” Larry Woodcock said of the reward. “Please give them back to us. They are the most unbelievable children you’ll ever meet.”
The Daybells have been named persons of interest in the case, which spans several states and may also involve the recent deaths of both Chad and Lori Daybell’s former spouses.
The couple has since issued a statement through an attorney, saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing “allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor.”
The Woodcocks, who live in Lake Charles, La., met with Rexburg police and members of the FBI on Monday. They said they are holding on to the belief that JJ and Tylee are alive, and they created a website where members of the public can see pictures of the children and give tips to where they may be found.
“Nobody has said anything contrary to that, and we hope and believe they are alive,” Larry Woodcock said. “That’s the reason for the reward.”
Lori was previously married to Kay’s brother, Charles Vallow, who had adopted JJ, and the family lived in Chandler, Ariz. Larry Woodcock said they always believed Lori was a wonderful mother to the children, until things began to change a while ago.
“There’s a timeline change with Lori, and it started a few years back,” he said. “Lori was a good mother when JJ was young — you couldn’t ask for a better mother — she loved Charles. I don’t know what caused this conversion.”
Kay Woodcock said her brother had previously confided in her that he thought Lori — who was then still married to him — was having an affair with Chad Daybell. The Woodcocks said they were also worried after hearing that Lori had told others that she wanted both Charles and JJ out of her life, and that concern grew when they learned Lori had threatened Charles. Then, Kay said, Charles told her Lori had joined a “doomsday cult.”
“He was highly concerned about it: Her emotional state, her mental state, and the fact that she had made threats about him. It all culminated into that cult that she’s in. It’s doomsday big time,” Kay said.
In July, Charles Vallow was shot and killed by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, in Chandler. Cox told authorities the shooting was in self-defense after Vallow hit him with a baseball bat. But that case remains unresolved, and Cox himself died of unknown causes in December.
“Charles was wary of Alex for a long time,” said Kay Woodcock. “Alex has reputation of no conscience. He would do things for Lori that were just, well, I’m one of six children and none of my brothers are going to murder anyone for me.”
Lori later married Chad Daybell, who himself had lost a spouse just two weeks earlier. Tammy Daybell, 49, died Oct. 19 in her Idaho home of what was listed in her obituary as natural causes. But the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office is now questioning that claim, and has had her remains exhumed for an autopsy.
The Woodcocks said they used to talk to JJ frequently through video chats and phone calls, but that they were only able to talk to him three times after his father died on July 7. Lori Daybell and the children reportedly moved to Rexburg, Idaho, around August.
“We don’t know why we weren’t allowed more access to him, but we reached out constantly — email, voice mail, text, whatever — and never got a response so that was very concerning to us,” Kay Woodcock said.
“The last call was an awkward call,” Larry Woodcock said. “It was like someone was watching him and directing him.”