NewsLocal News


Community grieves, creates memorial for JJ and Tylee where remains were recovered

Posted at 9:57 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 23:57:54-04

SALEM, Idaho — The community around eastern Idaho is sending an outpouring of love for JJ and Tylee, after remains were recovered from a field in Salem, Idaho.

The medical examiner's office has not yet confirmed the identify of the remains, however family members confirmed they believe the remains are that of Joshua JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, who disappeared from Rexburg in September.

JJ would have been 8 years old, and Tylee was 17.

Investigators discovered the remains on the property of Chad Daybell, who is married to the children's mother Lori Vallow Daybell.

On Thursday evening, a memorial began to grow along a fence that borders the property.

Dozens of people showed up, some driving by slowly and looking out their windows while others stopped to bring flowers, balloons, stuffed animals, and posters and cards with messages.

Some spent a moment to take it all in, believing the search for JJ and Tylee has come to an end.

The community, and entire world spent months worrying about the whereabouts of the children.

It's the worst outcome possible, and impossible to understand.

"I feel sick to my stomach," said Heidi Smith, who drove up from Idaho Falls with her husband Jon.

They brought posters that said, "Canada is thinking of Tylee and JJ! Australia is thinking of Tylee and JJ!" Heidi said she's in a Facebook group, and described how people all over the world wanted a way to express their sorrow. So, she made posters on their behalf.

"Its unreal to think that it's ending this way," Jon said.

Stephanie Gardner, who lives in Rexburg, said she just can't imagine. She brought two stuffed animals and a card
"These were like my babies," she said. "I know I didn't know them. I didn't know their family, but they're kids. Everyone loved them."

As they grieve and grasp for closure, they needed to come see it for themselves.

"It feels unreal to be here, where they were found," Heidi said.

"It's heartbreaking because, they're kids," Stephanie said. "My daughter is 18 now. One year older than Tylee. I can't imagine what her last moments... I just can't imagine it. It's just too hard on me right now."

The people who stopped by also wanted to send love and support to the family members of the children, who are heartbroken.

"Just remember them, honestly. And I know I'll never forget them," Stephanie said. "They're just special, special kids."

The community is planning to come together to hold a vigil for JJ and Tylee Friday night in Idaho Falls. Details for the event can be found here.