Investigators are looking into another death connected to Lori Vallow, the Idaho mom whose two children have been missing since September.
The FBI is now including an examination of the death of Lori Vallow’s third husband, Joseph Ryan, into their investigation into her.
Joseph Ryan was found dead in his apartment in 2018 from what was classified at the time as a heart attack, 14 years after his marriage to Vallow had ended.
“We are aware of Mr. Ryan’s death and it has become part of the investigation into Lori Vallow,” an FBI source told People.
In an interview with CourtTV Live, Ryan’s sister Annie Cushing told Ashleigh Banfield that an FBI agent interviewed her for three hours about the relationship between Vallow and Ryan and the circumstances surrounding his death.
Vallow and Ryan were married from 2001 to 2004 and shared daughter Tylee Ryan, 17, who hasn’t been seen since September. Ryan had also adopted Vallow’s son from her second marriage, Colby Ryan.
Cushing told Banfield that she had been close with both her brother and Vallow and that they often vacationed together.
“She said that this man was a good dad to Tylee,” Banfield said.
However, Colby Ryan had a different impression of his one-time father figure.
“Our relationship was not great,” Colby said on Friday’s episode of Dateline, which delved into the case of Vallow's missing children.
Colby said his mom and Joseph got married when he was a preschooler and said all the changes to his life that came along with the marriage had not been easy for him as a young child.
Colby also described a difficult relationship with Joseph.
“He went out of his way to make a point, when he would like spank me and then he just did weird things like little hits in the head. He thought it was funny,” Colby told Dateline.
Colby also alleged that Joseph sexually abused him during the marriage—a secret he said he eventually confided to his mom.
“I remember how devastated she was. I can’t imagine that feeling and that’s why I didn’t want to tell her in the beginning,” he said.
Banfield addressed Colby’s allegations of sexual abuse with Joseph’s sister.
“She said that they extensively investigated this allegation, child and family services, nine months worth of investigation in which Joe was not allowed to see his daughter, Tylee, and obviously not allowed to see Colby and that they did not go ahead with the prosecution because of inconsistencies in Colby’s story,” Banfield said in the CourtTV Live segment. “Annie says that her brother Joseph submitted to a polygraph test and did everything he was supposed to and that Tylee, the daughter, never made any similar accusations.”
After the marriage ended, the couple engaged in a heated battle for custody of Tylee.
In the summer of 2007, Vallow’s brother Alex Cox even attacked Joseph in an Austin parking lot with a stun gun. Cox had allegedly tried to kill Joseph, according to Dateline, but Joseph escaped.
Cox later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and served 90 days behind bars for the incident.
Then in 2018, Joseph was found dead.
“Joseph died in his apartment and was not discovered for a week,” Banfield noted on CourtTV Live. “It was his neighbor who made the discovery and called in the police and the police took his body and did a, what his sister calls a preliminary autopsy.”
Although Vallow and Joseph had not been married in years, she was still listed as his next of kin and was contacted by the police.
Cushing told local station KSL-TV in February that shortly after her brother died she flew out to Arizona to visit Tylee and claimed that Vallow—who Cushing had stayed close with over the years—was discouraging the teen from mourning her father.
“When I got there, it was as if, nothing had happened,” she told the station. “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 also noticed a strained relationship between Tylee and Vallow and said Vallow had grown increasingly consumed by her religious beliefs, including that the world was coming to an end.
“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.'”
Joseph’s death isn’t the only suspicious death surrounding Vallow and her new husband Chad Daybell, a religious author who frequently writes about the end of days.
On July 11, 2019, Vallow’s fourth husband Charles Vallow was shot to death by Cox, who later mysteriously died himself in December. Cox had told police at the time that he killed Charles in self-defense during a heated argument.
Just months before he died, however, Charles Vallow had texted a friend alleging that Lori wanted him "to disappear" and had become increasingly fascinated with her religious beliefs
“She actually believes I am not Charles. She says an evil named Nick Schneider murdered me and is using me to violate her,” he wrote according to the Dateline special.
Charles referred to his wife’s transformation as the “freakiest thing I’ve ever experienced.”
He also alleged in court documents filed in February 2019, which were obtained by local station KSAZ, that Lori had threatened to "murder him" if he "got in the way of her mission."
No charges were ever filed against Cox for the death.
Daybell’s 49-year-old wife Tammy also died in October 2019. Authorities initially believed Tammy had died from natural causes but now view the death as suspicious and have exhumed her body to perform an autopsy.
Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell got married in Kauai just two weeks after Tammy’s death using wedding rings that had been purchased several weeks before her death, according to Dateline.
The Idaho Attorney General’s Office is now investigating both Vallow and Chad Daybell for possible murder, conspiracy or attempted murder charges in connection with Tammy’s sudden death, according to East Idaho News
Vallow’s two children, Tylee and her adopted son Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, also remain missing. The children have not been seen since September and authorities have said that Vallow has refused to cooperate. She was arrested and charged with felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children after she failed to produce the children by a deadline given by authorities.
She is currently being held on a $1 million bond in a Madison County jail.
Editor’s note: Due to a sourcing error, this article originally misattributed information about the FBI investigation to a spokesperson. After our publication, People changed their wording to "FBI source."
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