It's been eight months since Lori Vallow’s two missing children were last seen alive, but this week, on her son’s 8th birthday, police in Idaho said they still had “hope” the children could be found safe.
“We would like everyone to know that today (May 25th) is J.J. Vallow’s 8th Birthday and that we continue to hope and pray for a safe return of both of these beautiful children each and every day,” Rexburg Police wrote in a post on Facebook.
Police urged the public to “continue to be vigilant” in the search for J.J. and his older sister, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, both of whom disappeared in September from Rexburg, Idaho where Vallow had recently moved the family to be closer to Chad Daybell, a religious author who often writes about the end of days.
Lori is still being held on a $1 million bond on felony child desertion charges after she failed to produce J.J. and Tylee by a deadline given by authorities.
J.J’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, also asked the public to remember the young boy on his birthday by changing their profile picture on social media to an image of him.
“We’re always thinking of JJ,” Kay said according to Arizona station KPNX. “It never goes away.”
Kay also delivered a message directly to J.J.—telling him his “little stuffed animal friends” were still waiting for him at their house in Louisiana.
“We look forward to kiss your sweet, beautiful face and hug you tightly,” Kay said.
Officials have said the last known images of Tylee were taken on Sept. 8, 2019 during a family outing to Yellowstone National Park, according to an affidavit of probable cause released by the Madison County Prosecuting Attorney.
J.J. was last seen a few weeks later at his elementary school on Sept. 23. The following day, Lori called the school to say he would no longer be attending the school because she planned to homeschool him, according to the affidavit.
Melanie Gibb, who described herself as Vallow’s best friend, told the East Idaho News in a new interview that she visited Vallow in her townhome in Rexburg on Sept. 19.
While she never saw Tylee during the visit, she said she did see J.J.
However, Gibb said she was unnerved about a conversation she had with Vallow about J.J. while the two were on a walk together.
“She said that he had turned into a zombie the day before I got there, and she was pointing out behaviors of his. … She was trying to create uncertainty in me about what I saw. … I was looking at him and thought, ‘I don’t know. He looks just like J.J. to me,” she said.
Vallow told her at the time that Ryan was at BYU-Idaho taking classes.
Gibb said she and Lori had discussed sending J.J. to stay with Kay but was surprised to later get a phone call from Lori in November asking her to lie to police and tell them J.J. had been staying with her.
But Gibb said she was uncomfortable and declined.
Gibb also told the news outlet that Lori also believed that her fourth husband Charles Vallow was possessed after hearing a revelation from Chad.
Chad allegedly told Lori that her then-husband would die in a car wreck and had been overtaken by an “unclean spirit” roaming the earth who had attached himself to Charles’ body.
Gibb said she was in Lori’s house when Chad called her and made the revelation.
“He would say he was receiving revelation about people,” Gibb said. “He said the veil (between heaven and earth) was open all the time, and he had a way of seeing things that Lori could not.”
Charles Vallow also voiced concerns about his wife’s increasingly bizarre religious beliefs before he died.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 31, 2019 he told a Gilbert Police officer that his wife had become “mentally unstable” and he was concerned for the welfare of the children.
"She’s lost her mind; I don’t know how else to say it. We’re LDS, she thinks she’s a resurrected being and a God, a member of the 144,000," he said according to KNXV. "She took all the money out of her bank account today, and our truck is gone."
Charles was later shot to death by Lori’s brother Alex Cox on July 11, 2019 in Arizona during an argument. Cox, who later died himself in December, told police at the time that the shooting had been in self-defense.
Lori married Chad, her fifth husband, in the fall just two weeks after his own wife, 49-year-old Tammy Daybell, was found dead in her home. Tammy’s death has been deemed suspicious and is being investigated by the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of J.J. Vallow or Tylee Ryan is urged to contact authorities.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.