BOISE, Idaho - The bizarre case surrounding Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow started with suspicions from extended family members and has since been followed by strangers around the world transfixed by the increasingly disturbing circumstances surrounding Daybell and Vallow and the whereabouts of Vallow’s two missing children, whose bodies were found Wednesday on Daybell’s property.
Suspicions surrounding the couple first emerged when family members urged local police to investigate the disappearance of 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and his 17-year-old sister Tylee Ryan, who had not been seen since September. The investigation quickly morphed into something more complex when reports of the mysterious deaths of the couple’s former spouses, along with rumors of doomsday cult-like beliefs and their sudden move to Hawaii, began to raise eyebrows.
The case took a grim turn Wednesday when investigators announced they found human remains while searching Daybell's property in rural Idaho. In a field near Daybell's house, the FBI and local authorities erected canopies, draped blue tarps on the ground and brought in heavy equipment to dig.
Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow-Daybell booking photos
Daybell, who married the missing children’s mother, Vallow, was arrested on suspicion of concealing or destroying evidence after local and federal investigators searched his property, according to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office.
The bodies were identified Wednesday by family members as JJ and Tylee, Vallow’s two missing children.
Here is a timeline of the investigation that has drawn global attention for its confusing twists and ties to an apocalyptic religious sect:
2001 - Lori Vallow marries Tylee’s father
According to The Post Register, Lori Vallow married her third husband and Tylee’s father, Joseph Anthony Ryan Jr., in 2001. Joseph adopted Lori’s son Colby, who she had in her previous marriage. Joseph and Lori eventually filed for divorce in 2004. Joseph died of a heart attack in 2018 and was cremated.
2006 - Lori Vallow marries her fourth husband and adopts "JJ"
Lori and her fourth husband Leland "Charles" Anthony Vallow married in Las Vegas in February of 2006. The two adopted Joshua Jaxon "JJ" Vallow, who was the biological grandson of Charles’ sister Kay Woodcock, whose husband, Larry, would eventually raise concerns to law enforcement over the disappearance of JJ and Tylee.
2014 - Charles and Lori Vallow move to the Hawaiian island of Kauai
Approximately a year after the couple moved to Hawaii with JJ and Tylee, it was reported by FOX 5 NY that Lori became "obsessed" with books written by Chad Daybell, four years before the two eventually married.
According to a former friend of Lori who remains anonymous, Lori was especially intrigued with Chad’s fictional series called "Standing in Holy Places," which centered on apocalyptic scenarios loosely based on Mormon theology.
Lori’s friend said, "Those books she got really obsessed with and she started buying me those books too. She must have gotten close to him from his books."
According to the East Idaho News, the family eventually moved to Arizona sometime between 2016 and 2017.
2018 - Lori Vallow meets Chad Daybell
According the East Idaho News, Lori met Chad Daybell in 2018, when he was teaching an evening class at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which she attended.
The two reportedly became close immediately, traveling together to a religious conference in St. George, Utah, where Chad gave talks on his books. The two reportedly continued speaking daily from the time of their first meeting.
2019 - Lori’s brother kills Charles Vallow
Court documents suggest that things began to unravel for the family early in 2019, when Lori was still married to Charles Vallow. The couple were estranged, and Vallow had filed for divorce, saying he feared she would kill him and that she had developed cult-like beliefs. Charles alleged that Lori claimed to be "a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ's second coming in July 2020."
The family was living in a Phoenix suburb in July when Lori's brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed Vallow. Cox asserted that the shooting was in self-defense after Vallow allegedly came at him with a baseball bat. Police investigated, but the case didn't go far before Cox died of a blood clot in his lung in December of 2019.
2019 - Lori Vallow marries Chad Daybell
Lori Vallow moved to Idaho with JJ and Tylee, getting an apartment in the small town of Rexburg and spending time with Chad Daybell. The couple had known each other for a while, sometimes participating in podcasts about preparing for the biblical end times for an online organization aimed at members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At the time, Chad was married to Tammy Daybell, a 49-year-old school librarian who helped him run his small publishing company.
Tammy Daybell died in October, her obituary saying she passed away in her sleep of natural causes. The family declined an autopsy before she was buried in Utah.
About two weeks later, Chad Daybell married Lori Vallow in Hawaii.
The quick marriage drew the suspicion of officers, who had Tammy Daybell's body exhumed for an investigation. The results of that autopsy have not yet been released.
2019 - The disappearance of JJ and Tylee
Tylee was last seen in September of 2019 headed into Yellowstone National Park with Lori and other family members for a day trip, and JJ was last seen by school officials several days later.
JJ’s grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock, were growing increasingly worried about the kids. They said once-regular phone calls with JJ had grown infrequent and then stopped altogether. They said Lori wouldn’t tell them why the boy was always unavailable.
In November of 2019, the Woodcocks asked Rexburg police to check on the children. When officers stopped by to question Lori, they said she and Chad Daybell lied about the children's whereabouts. When investigators returned the next day to follow up, Lori and Chad were gone.
Police began searching for Tylee and JJ in November after relatives raised concerns. Police said Chad and Lori lied to investigators about the children’s whereabouts before quietly leaving Idaho.
Law enforcement officers searched Chad Daybell's home initially on Jan. 3 in connection with his first wife's death, removing more than 40 items including several pieces of computer equipment.
A few days later, JJ's grandparents announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the kids. They later asked a judge to give them custody of JJ, who was still missing. And they have pushed to keep a spotlight on the search, posting billboards and updating social media on the case.
2020 - Lori and Chad Daybell quietly move to Hawaii
While the couple slipped away to Hawaii in January, the investigation pushed forward in Idaho, Arizona and Utah. Eventually, they were found in the islands, and a judge ordered Lori to bring the children to officials to prove they were safe. She refused and was charged with child abandonment and other crimes, then extradited to Idaho.
In the weeks following, the Idaho attorney general's office took over the investigation into Tammy Daybell's death, while Lori has tried and failed to get her bond lowered.
Meanwhile, Tylee and JJ's relatives were still waiting for answers. They watched JJ’s birthday arrive in late May.
"Our feelings of extreme anguish and despondency were prevalent throughout the period approaching JJ’s 8th birthday," Kay Woodcock wrote in a Facebook post. "Our Rexburg family hosted a poignant vigil on Monday 5/25 in honor of our little man... We are comforted knowing their commitment is as strong as ours."
2020 - Human remains found on Chad Daybell’s property
On June 10, authorities said they uncovered human remains at Chad Daybell’s home in rural Idaho, as they investigated the disappearance his first wife and Lori’s two children.
Authorities had not officially released the identities of the bodies discovered on the property of Daybell on Wednesday, but relatives said they belong to the two missing children.
Police from the small town of Rexburg, Idaho, along with the FBI and sheriff's investigators, searched Daybell’s home in the eastern Idaho town of Salem for the second time, bringing in backhoes and setting up tents in a nearby field. The search warrant was sealed, and Rexburg Assistant Police Chief Gary Hagan said he couldn't reveal details other than the search was linked to the children's disappearance.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.