Family members of Lori Vallow's two missing children have confirmed that the bodies found during a search of her husband Chad Daybell’s property earlier this week belong to them.
A statement from Joshua “JJ” Vallow’s grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock, and Lori Vallow’s oldest son Colby Ryan confirmed the sad news Wednesday afternoon, ending a months long search for the two children who haven’t been seen since September.
“The Woodcocks and the Ryans are confirming that the human remains found by law enforcement on Chad Daybell’s property are indeed our beloved JJ and Tylee,” the statement said, according to the East Idaho News. “We are filled with unfathomable sadness that these two bright stars were stolen from us and only hope that they died without pain or suffering.”
Authorities have not yet officially confirmed the identity of the bodies.
“We ask that you respect our family’s privacy while we grieve—we have only just been told of the loss of our loved ones and need time to process,” the statement said, adding that it was “the worst news that we will ever get in our lives.”
During a Wednesday court appearance for Chad Daybell —who is currently facing two counts of destruction, alteration and concealment of evidence—Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood confirmed that the bodies of two children had been found on Daybell’s property during a search of his home.
Although he said the identities of the bodies had not been confirmed, Wood told the court that the “manner of concealment” of one of the bodies had been “particularly egregious.”
Daybell’s younger brother Matt Daybell and his wife Heather also issued a public statement after the discovery of the bodies, according to the local paper.
“The events of the past nine months have weighed heavily on our family—it has been one of the most difficult things we have ever had to go through,” they wrote. “Some in our extended family are still struggling to accept the reality that Chad could have been involved in something so terribly wrong.”
The Daybells went on to offer their condolences to the children’s families.
“On behalf of myself, my wife Heather, and our four children, we express our most sincere sympathies to Larry and Kay and to JJ and Tylee’s entire extended families. We are devastated by today’s news and the apparent role that Chad has played in what has transpired,” the statement read.
Matt Daybell said in the months since the children disappeared his family has regularly reached out to Larry and Kay Woodcock and described them as being examples “of courage, strength and kindness to us throughout this difficult trial that they have been forced to endure.”
The family said they remain committed to finding the truth.
“We also continue to pray for Tammy and Chad’s adult children and their spouses. Because of the difficulty of this situation, our relationship with them has been significantly strained. As a result, we have had no contact with them or Chad for the last many months—we do not know where his children stand at this time. As such, we ask for patience and compassion for them and for all of our extended family as we cope with the horrific events that have come to light,” the statement concluded.
Tylee Ryan was 17 years old and JJ Vallow 7 when they were last seen alive in September.
The last known images of Tylee were taken during a family outing to Yellowstone National Park on Sept. 8, 2019, according to an affidavit of probable cause released by the Madison County Prosecuting Attorney.
JJ was last seen a few weeks later at his elementary school on Sept. 23. The following day, authorities said Lori Vallow had called the school to report that she planned to homeschool the 7-year-old.
Larry and Kay Woodcock called police in November after becoming concerned when they couldn’t reach their grandson. Rexburg police questioned Lori about the children’s whereabouts on Nov. 26.
She initially told authorities that JJ had been staying with a friend; however, after that turned out not to be true, authorities returned to Lori’s home to find that she had suddenly left the area.
She was later discovered in Kauai with her new husband Chad Daybell—a religious author who regularly wrote about the end of days. Lori and Chad got married just two weeks after Chad’s wife Tammy died at the age of 49.
The Idaho Attorney General’s Office is currently investigating Chad and Lori for potential murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in Tammy’s death.
Tammy’s death is not the only mysterious demise surrounding the couple. In July, Lori’s estranged fourth husband Charles Vallow was shot to death in Arizona by her brother, Alex Cox. Cox, who later died himself in December, had claimed at the time that he killed Charles in self-defense.
Lori is currently being held behind bars on a $1 million bond on felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children after she failed to produce the missing children by a deadline given by authorities.
Authorities discovered the bodies on Tuesday after serving a search warrant at Daybell’s Freemont County home, Rexburg Police said in a statement. The search was conducted by the Rexburg Police, Freemont County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI.
Just weeks before the bodies were discovered, Lori’s best friend Melanie Gibb spoke with the East Idaho News about Lori and Chad’s religious beliefs and said Lori had been concerned that JJ had turned into a “zombie” in the weeks before he disappeared.
“She said that he had turned into a zombie the day before I got there, and she was pointing out behaviors of his,” Gibb said.
Gibb also told the news outlet that Lori had told her Charles had been taken over by an “unclean spirit” before his death.
Daybell is also being held on a $1 million dollar bail.
Wood had argued for the higher figure on Wednesday because of the serious nature of what had been discovered on the property.
“One of the primary reasons we are asking the bail be set in that amount is the evidence that has been concealed in this case—it’s not simply a document, drugs, a gun. These are human remains. … We are aware that those remains are the remains of children, which we believe is an aggravating factor,” he said, according to People.
Authorities have not announced whether Lori or Chad will face additional charges now that the bodies have been found.
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