KAUAI, Hawaii — As people around the world watched Lori Vallow-Daybell face a judge in a Kaua’i courtroom Friday, the people who used to call her family also closely followed the court hearing.
Kaua’i Police arrested Vallow-Daybell on a $5 million warrant out of Madison County, Idaho over the disappearance of her children.
Vallow-Daybell hardly spoke in court, and her attorney asked a judge to lower the $5 million dollar bail to $10,000, explaining that Lori wasn’t a flight risk.
The judge denied that request. Lori is fighting extradition back to Idaho.
“I was really disgusted to watch her,” Annie Cushing said. “You just see defiance.”
And Annie Cushing could see that her former sister-in-law still won’t tell police where the kids are. Lori’s daughter and Annie’s niece, 17-year old Tylee Ryan, and Lori’s adopted son, 7-year old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, haven’t been seen or heard from since September.
After a months-long investigation, police swooped in on Thursday.
“It just feels like Lori was arrested, and the timeline just accelerated really fast,” Cushing said.
It accelerated because charging documents revealed a whole list of new details about the kids’ disappearance, as well as what Lori and her new husband, Chad Daybell, told police.
One of the most significant pieces of information for Cushing, came in a paragraph that explained the day Tylee was last seen.
“No one has been able to say when Tylee was last seen,” Cushing said. “That bothered me a lot-- just this whole idea of her just slipping away, unnoticed.”
According to the affidavit of probable cause, police figured out that Lori, her brother Alex Cox and Tylee took a day trip to Yellowstone National Park on September 8.
Documents state Rexburg detectives “obtained a photograph of [Tylee] at the park entrance through the National Park Service,” and also obtained a photo from Lori’s iCloud through a search warrant, that shows Tylee in the park.
“This photo is the last time we can find any record of T.R. being with Lori Vallow,” the affidavit said. “We have found no witnesses who can verify they have seen T.R. since September 8, 2019.”
It brings up a lot of questions for Annie.
“Why was she with Alex and Lori in an expansive national park?” she asked. She also wondered if the National Park Service had any other surveillance or photos showing Tylee, or the trio’s vehicle arriving and leaving.
Alex Cox is the person who shot and killed Lori’s late husband, Charles Vallow, in July in Arizona. At the time, he claimed self-defense.
Cox himself died in Arizona in December. His cause of death and autopsy results haven’t been released.
As far as JJ, documents outline how 10 days after the Yellowstone trip, Lori met with a woman to hire her as a babysitter for JJ.
The babysitter told police her understanding was the “employment was to be ongoing.” However, just days later on September 24—the day after JJ was last seen at his school—the babysitter reported that Lori told her JJ was going to stay with his grandma, and “the babysitter’s services were no longer needed.”
September 24 is the same day JJ’s school told police Lori came in to unenroll him, saying she was going to homeschool him instead.
According to the probable cause statement, both Lori and Chad Daybell lied to police and close friends about the children.
The document states Chad told his parents that Lori was an “empty nester,” and that he told his deceased wife’s sister that Lori didn’t have children.
Chad’s wife, Tammy Daybell, died in October under suspicious circumstances. Her autopsy results haven’t been released, and an investigation into her death is ongoing.
Police said Chad told officers that he didn’t know Lori very well when they went to question the couple in late November. He allegedly told police he didn’t even have Lori’s number.
At that time, the couple had been married for nearly a month, according to the charging documents.
During the late November visit to Lori, documents state she told police that her friend Melanie Gibb in Arizona was taking care of JJ. When police couldn’t reach Melanie, she apparently told them that Melanie was currently watching “Frozen 2” with JJ and probably couldn’t answer.
Police finally did get ahold of Gibb, and according to documents, she said JJ was not staying with her and had not been there for several months.
Gibb later told police in December that Chad and Lori called Gibb at separate times “and asked her to tell the police that she had J.V. even though J.V. was not with her.”
Rexburg Police got a warrant and came back a day later to raid Lori, her niece Melani Boudreaux, and brother Alex Cox’s townhomes. They said Lori and Chad had already left the state.
Police reported finding JJ’s medication during that raid. They said the prescription was filled in Arizona in January 2019, and was not refilled in Idaho. According to the documents, there were still pills inside the bottle.
When Kaua’i Police and Rexburg PD served a search warrant on the couple’s Princeville, HI condo and their vehicle in January, detectives reported finding JJ and Tylee’s birth certificates, Tylee’s bank card, JJ’s iPad, another iPad logged into JJ’s Apple account, and JJ’s school registration receipts from Idaho.
Tylee’s bank card found with Lori, the affidavit states, was still active and had been used since the last sighting of her.
During a press conference on Friday, Kaua’i Police said there is no evidence the children ever came to Hawaii with Chad and Lori.
Even with Lori now behind bars on charges, and appearing in court—the question remains: Where are the children?
“I’m kind of hoping if Lori doesn’t crack, that Chad will step up,” Cushing said. “And just say, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”
For more stories on the search for JJ and Tylee, click here.