The aunt of missing Idaho teenager Tylee Ryan has spoken out about her niece’s disappearance, calling Ryan’s mother “unhinged” in a new interview.
Tylee Ryan, 17, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, have been missing since last fall and police say that their mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, has been largely uncooperative. She and her husband, Chad Daybell, left their home in Rexburg, Idaho unexpectedly shortly after the investigation began, but the couple was later located in Hawaii – with the children still unaccounted for.
After finding her, authorities served Vallow Daybell with a court order instructing her to hand over her missing children to the authorities within five days. However, that deadline has come and gone, and Vallow Daybell has not produced either of the children.
As Tylee's and Joshua’s whereabouts remain a mystery, their loved ones have started to speak out on the case and plead for the children’s safe return. Annie Cushing –– whose late brother Joseph Ryan was Tylee’s father –– told local outlet KSL-TV during a Skype interview published over the weekend that during her previous interactions with Vallow Daybell, the mother of three came across as “unhinged,” so much so that she cut ties with her altogether.
Speaking to the outlet, Cushing said that her brother’s marriage to Vallow Daybell, which ultimately ended in divorce after four years, started out normally. They were “madly in love” but things eventually grew hard, and her brother had a temper; the couple split ways in 2004 when Tylee was 18 months old.
Vallow Daybell then married Charles Vallow, her fourth husband, in 2006, at which point she moved with her two children — Tylee and her son from a previous marriage, Colby — from Texas to Arizona. Tylee’s father moved to Arizona as well, and he and Vallow Daybell battled in court over custody of Tylee, according to court documents obtained by KSL.
Those documents reportedly state that Vallow Daybell was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation after telling social workers that “death would be an option before giving Tylee to her father, Mr. Joseph Ryan, even for a visit.”
Cushing says she began noticing something strange about Vallow Daybell after her brother's death in March 2018, KSL reports. His cause of death was ruled as a heart attack, but he was not found until authorities performed a welfare check — a week after he’d already died — due to the neighbor’s dog noticing a strange smell. Although authorities alerted Vallow Daybell of Ryan’s death, Cushing said that Vallow Daybell never reached out to his family to let them know that he’d passed; Cushing was notified five weeks later, she said, after authorities were forced to run a background check when no one came to claim Ryan’s body.
“That really took me back, I thought, ‘You knew and didn’t tell me?'” Cushing told the station.
Despite Vallow Daybell’s strange behavior, Cushing said that she agreed to travel to Arizona for a visit in order to show support for Tylee, according to the outlet. However, when she arrived, she observed that Vallow Daybell and Tylee had a tense relationship, and that Vallow Daybell discouraged her daughter from mourning the loss of her father, she said.
“When I got there, it was as if nothing had happened. 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 told the outlet.
She went on to recall texting her family and stating that she thought Vallow Daybell, whom the family used to call “Lolo,” could be a sociopath.
“To her, this was all a game. She had no empathy for the suffering anyone else was experiencing, including Tylee,” Cushing said.
She was also overly concerned about doomsday scenarios, Cushing recalled.
“It’s like she wanted me to be afraid of the end times,” she explained. “There was one time where she was talking about it and she says, 'Sometimes, I think it would be better just to put my kids in a car and go off the side of a cliff.'”
Cushing’s comments are in line with previous reports regarding Vallow Daybell and her new husband, who has written numerous books about end-of-the-world scenarios. It was a concern shared by one of Vallow Daybell’s previous husbands as well. Prior to his death, Charles Vallow said in court documents that he worried for the children’s safety because his former wife had become obsessed with near-death experiences, according to court documents obtained by Salt Lake City’s Fox 13.
She had apparently begun to believe that she was “a God assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020,” her ex-husband claimed; he also alleged that she threatened to kill him if he got in the way of her “mission.”
Cushing told KSL that, during her visit with Vallow Daybell, there were “so many lies.” She at one point texted her daughter about her suspicions, stating that Vallow Daybell was “unhinged and untethered from truth.”
Cushing’s comments are similar to those that have been made by others close to the family. Colby Ryan, the siblings’ older brother, told Fox10 Phoenix last week that he was “done” with his mother.
“I'm done. I've been done the day that I saw them without the kids walking around Hawaii,” he said. “That was it.”
Similarly, Kay Woodcock, Joshua’s grandmother, called Vallow Daybell a “monster” after she failed to show up with the children by the court-ordered deadline, the Rexburg Standard Journal reports.
“Lori’s not gonna make this easy,” she said during a press conference. “She’s got an end game in her head, it’s not a game and obviously she thinks it is. That smug attitude she had [in Hawaii], that’s what really let me know that she’s not gonna do anything unless she is forced to do it.”
Police have previously said that they believe both siblings are in danger, but their mother has “completely refused” to aid their investigation into the children’s whereabouts.
Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell’s attorney Sean Bartholick defended them in December in a statement obtained by the East Idaho News.
“Chad Daybell was a loving husband and has the support of his children in this matter,” he said. “Lori Daybell is a devoted mother and resents assertions to the contrary. We look forward to addressing the allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor.”
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