Phoenix police are reviewing the death of Lori Vallow’s third husband, Joseph Ryan, after disturbing recordings have surfaced in which Vallow allegedly discusses wanting to murder her ex.
“The Phoenix Police Department is reviewing the investigation involving the death of Joseph Ryan,” public information officer Sgt. Mercedes Fortune told Oxygen.com.
Vallow is currently behind bars awaiting trial in Idaho after authorities discovered the remains of two of her children buried on the property of her fifth and current husband, Chad Daybell, earlier this summer.
Daybell and Vallow are each facing conspiracy charges to destroy, alter or conceal evidence in the case, although neither has been charged with killing JJ Vallow, 7, or 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, both of whom disappeared in September.
Authorities are now turning their attention to another death, that of Vallow’s third husband Joseph Ryan, who was found dead in his apartment in April 2018.
At the time, the death was believed to be due to a heart attack, but new audio, purportedly of Vallow saying she “was going to murder” an ex-husband, has sparked a new look into the case.
The audio recording—obtained by The Post Register from Joseph Ryan’s sister Annie Cushing—captures a conversation Vallow allegedly had at a religious meeting held at the home of close friend, Melanie Gibb. Cushing declined to tell the outlet where she got the recording, other than to say she was “100%” it had been from a credible source, who told her it was recorded at Preparing A People gathering at Gibb’s home. Preparing a People is an organization focused on preparing for the end of days and Christ’s second coming.
The metadata on the audio indicates it was recorded on Oct. 19, 2018, the Post Register reports.
Though Ryan's name isn't specifically uttered in the recording, according to CNN, the purported conversation came six months after his death.
Vallow allegedly described being married “to someone who was very awful” before she left the marriage and got a divorce. But she claimed that her ex had tried to get custody of the couple’s daughter, Tylee, then 3-years-old, to “rub it in my face.”
In addition, Vallow’s oldest son Colby Ryan, who was adopted by Joseph Ryan after their nuptials, alleged earlier this year in an interview with NBC’s “Dateline” that Joseph Ryan had sexually abused him—a secret he later confided to his mom.
“I remember how devastated she was,” Colby Ryan said in the May 1 episode. “I can’t imagine that feeling and that’s why I didn’t want to tell her in the beginning.”
Despite Vallow’s claims of abuse, Joseph Ryan was awarded visitation with his daughter, which only further enraged Vallow.
“I was going to murder him. I was going to kill him. Like the scriptures say. Like Nephi killed. Just to stop the pain and to stop him coming after me and to stop him coming after my children,” Vallow allegedly said in the recording. “I just thought I couldn’t take it anymore. And I would go through the scriptures and find all the things. Like: ‘If he comes against you once, if he comes against you twice, if he comes against you three times then you can kill him.’ It says it in the scriptures in the Book of Mormon.”
Vallow allegedly went on to say she believed that could be her “answer.”
“I don’t want to do anything that’s wrong. I did not have a murderous heart,” she allegedly said. “I just wanted to stop the bleeding and stop the pain.”
Amidst her anger, Vallow said she made the decision to turn toward her faith.
“I was like, ‘I’m either going to turn my life to the temple, or I’m going to commit murder,” she allegedly said in the recording, also obtained by EastIdahoNews.com.
Cushing told the outlet she decided to release the recording in the hopes that it would spark an investigation into her brother’s 2018 death.
“I think for them to continue to say he died of natural causes is reckless,” she said.
In a statement to local station KPHO/KTVK, Cushing said she was “cautiously optimistic” the newly uncovered recording would lead to a deeper investigation.
“It may have been reasonable to perform a cursory autopsy and rule the cause of death as natural at the time. However, in light of the trail of deaths in Lori Vallow’s wake and her damning admission in this recording, forgoing an investigation is no longer responsible,” she said.
Joseph Ryan’s body was cremated shortly after his death.
Fortune told Oxygen.com “there are no person(s) of interest since his death was ruled as natural.” She declined to release any further information about the case.
The death came after a years-long, often heated custody battle between the former spouses.
In the summer of 2007, Vallow’s brother Alex Cox attacked Joseph in an Austin parking lot with a stun gun. Cox had allegedly tried to kill Joseph, but he escaped, according to Dateline.
Cox later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and served 90 days behind bars for the incident.
Then in 2011, Vallow allegedly told a court-appointed psychologist that “death would be an option before giving Tylee to her father, Joseph Ryan, even for a visit,” according to court documents obtained by KPHO/KTVK.
Joseph Ryan’s death is not the only mysterious death surrounding the couple. Vallow’s fourth husband, Charles Vallow, was shot in July 2019 by Cox, who claimed to have acted in self-defense during a heated argument.
Cox himself died in December from what was determined to be a pulmonary blood clot, although the death is still being investigated, local station KUTV reports.
Daybell’s first wife Tammy also died under suspicious circumstances in October 2019—just two weeks before Daybell and Vallow tied the knot in Hawaii.
The Idaho Attorney General’s Office has said it is investigating Vallow and Daybell for possible murder conspiracy, or attempted murder charges in connection with Tammy’s sudden death, according to an earlier report from EastIdahoNews.com.
An Idaho judge ruled last month that Vallow and Daybell will face trial together in 2021 for the charges they are facing connected to the discovery of JJ and Tylee’s bodies.
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