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Colby Ryan says pleaded with his mother, Lori Vallow, to tell him where his missing siblings were in the months after they disappeared.
“I asked her 1000 times, ‘What’s going on?’” Colby told the outlet. “And the only answer I ever got was, ‘Everything’s going to be revealed soon.’”
Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, disappeared weeks apart in September 2019, shortly after Vallow had moved with them to Rexburg, Idaho to be closer to doomsday religious author Chad Daybell.
Vallow and Daybell — who has also been charged with murdering the children — would marry later that year, just weeks after Daybell’s first wife Tammy was found dead in her home.
Tylee was last seen during a family outing to Yellowstone National Park with Lori Vallow, her brother Alex Cox and JJ on Sept. 8, 2019, according to an affidavit in the case previously obtained by Oxygen.com.
JJ was last seen the night of Sept. 22, 2019 in his Rexburg home by Vallow’s close friend Melanie Gibb.
The children wouldn’t be reported missing until two months later, when JJ’s grandparents got concerned that they were unable to reach him and contacted police to perform a welfare check. Vallow initially claimed that JJ had been visiting Gibb. Investigators later discovered that was untrue but, by the time they did, Vallow and Daybell had hopped a flight to Hawaii — where they remained for months as the search for the children continued.
"Pretty early on, I reached out to my mom and she was being really shady about it before she cut everybody — including me — off," Colby told The U.S. Sun. “And then obviously, you're going to start questioning, 'Is everyone alive? Are they OK? What if the worst has happened?' — but you can't think like that."
Vallow was arrested in Hawaii in February 2020 and extradited back to Idaho after she failed to meet a deadline to produce the children given to her by authorities.
Still, Colby remained hopeful that Vallow hadn’t really harmed his younger siblings.
"There was a lot of back and forth and a lot of fear," he recalled. "But I had to keep faith also that there was a possibility nothing happened because I couldn't imagine anything happening, especially with my mom.”
"In my mind, there was just absolutely 100 percent no way that she would hurt them,” he added.
His worst fears were realized, however, when investigators discovered the remains of both children buried on Daybell’s property in June 2020r.
For months, Colby said he was consumed by anger.
“They took my family away from me, they took them away from everybody else that loved them,” he said. “It’s one of the most painful things ever to hear, to hear details about how your own people, that you grew up around and loved, killed your own family.”
Eventually, he said, he realized that he needed to let go of his hatred and anger towards his mother in order to move on with his life.
“So I love them and miss them all the time,” he said of his slain siblings. “But I also have to take an acceptance that they’re not here. And that was definitely hard.”
Colby said he later confronted his mother behind bars and told her that he forgave her.
“It took me so long to actually forgive,” he said. “What forgiveness really is though, is releasing your own anger and all that stuff, and you’re just saying 'I don’t need to carry this [burden] anymore.'”
Prosecutors announced earlier this month that they plan to pursue the death penalty against Vallow, who is facing first-degree murder charges in her children’s deaths, NBC News reports.
Thought she had initially been declared mentally unfit to stand trial, her competency was restored last month, allowing the criminal charges to proceed against her.
Colby said believes his mom is “100 percent” responsible for the allegations against her, but admitted it was still “hard” to know she could be facing death.
“It’s hard to hear that they would do that with my mom,” he said. “But again, it’s out of my hands and always has been.”
Colby’s recently published book, “The God Over Odds”, is the first part of a two-part series chronicling how his relationship with God helped him overcome a life of trauma and loss.
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