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Investigation into Alex Cox's death closed

alex cox tylee ryan jj vallow.jpg
Posted at 11:14 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 01:31:15-05

GILBERT, Ariz. — Police in Gilbert, Arizona have released the results of their lengthy investigation into the death of Alex Cox, the brother of Lori Vallow Daybell.

Interviews and medical reports show what they discovered in his sudden, mysterious death more than a year ago-- including what warning signs led up to his death. The documents also give insight into why the case is now closed.

Cox's December 2019 death raised eyebrows. Even though it was released as being from natural causes, he passed away suspiciously soon after the disappearances of his niece and adopted nephew, Tylee Ryan and Joshua "JJ" Vallow.

The bodies of Lori Vallow Daybell's children were later found, according to court documents, specifically based on information from Cox's cell phone.

Lori Vallow Daybell and her husband Chad Daybell are currently in jail, on charges related to the discovery of the children's remains in Chad Daybell's backyard.

On December 12, 2019, a young man called 911 in Arizona.

"I have a (sic) older male here named Alex, he's just passed out here on the - in my- on my bathroom," said the man, who identified himself as Joseph Lopez.

Lopez, who says on the call he is 25 years old, doesn't know Alex's last name and says Alex is his mother's boyfriend.

Police would later find out that Lopez's mother, Zulema Pastenes, had married Alex two weeks prior on a whim in Las Vegas.

Lopez isn't quite sure what to do, as a dispatcher calls out paramedics to the home.

"Yo, Alex. Alex!" Lopez calls out. "He's not - he's not breathing."

Paramedics and police respond, quickly launching an investigation.

The newly-released investigation report, which is more than 50 pages long, details what officers did after finding Cox passed out on the bathroom floor, with vomit and feces around him.

Officers interviewed Lopez, Pastenes, and other family members of Pastenes.

"Zulema said Alexander has not been feeling very well over the past few days," one officer wrote. "She also said Alexander has been suffering shortness of breath with the slightest of movements."

Officers said Pastenes told them that Alex had gone to Mexico to pick up medication for himself and Zulema.

"Alex had a friend [name redacted] give him a blessing over the phone," another officer wrote, of what Pastenes recounted happening shortly before Cox died. "[Name redacted] then texted Zulema and told her Alex was not doing well and she should leave work and go home. She called Alex and he was having a hard time talking to her."

In the 911 call, Lopez is heard talking to Pastenes after she comes home.

"It's really bad," Lopez says, to Pastenes. "Come upstairs, in the bathroom. We need to get him on his back."

Pastenes' daughter Cara Onofryton later told officers more about her mother and Alex's relationship.

"Cara referred to Alex as being 'very religious,'" the investigation states. "Alex moved into the [redacted] residence around Thanksgiving 2019."

Thanksgiving week is when Rexburg Police and the FBI busted into Alex and Lori's townhomes in Idaho to serve search warrants in the disappearance of JJ and Tylee.

According to charging documents, police attempted to speak to the brother and sister while doing a welfare check on JJ, at his grandparent's request.

When they showed up with a warrant just before Thanksgiving, Alex and Lori had disappeared.

"Cara stated Alex's sister (Laurie) (sic) and her mother had been good friends and attended the same LDS Church. Cara called her mother and Laurie (sic) 'Preppers' and explained Preppers were preparing for the end of the world," the death investigation report states.

"It was the relationship between her mother and Laurie (sic) is how her mother met Alex," the report continues. "Cara's mother and Alex knew each other before Alex moved to Idaho. Her mother planned on moving to Idaho to be with Alex, but it was ultimately Alex who decided to move back to Arizona to be with Zulema."

"When Alex moved back to Arizona from Idaho, he brought his niece named Melanie with him. Melanie drove separate from Alex but stayed with the family at the address," the report details. "Cara stated Melanie returned to Arizona from Idaho to pick up the remaining items she had left in Arizona. Once Melanie was finished, she drove back to Idaho."

There is no mention in the report anywhere about JJ and Tylee.

"Cara does not know any other of Alex's family members besides his sister Laurie (sic) and his niece Melanie," the report says.

The report explains that police served a search warrant on Pastenes' home as part of the death investigation, and that soon after, Pastenes said she would not talk to police without her lawyer.

It appears detectives gathered many items as evidence, but the report is redacted when it comes to details of what they booked and why.

An autopsy of Cox revealed "no obvious signs of trauma to his person or outstanding evidence discovered during the exam."

While the full autopsy report and medical examiner's documents are heavily redacted, it is noted that, "no suspicious compounds were discovered or noted on the lab report."

In the end, the cause of Alex Cox's death is listed as "Bilateral Pulmonary Thromboemboli" with "Atherosclerotic and Hypertensive Cardiovascular Disease." In other words: Blood clots and heart failure.

Cox died months before the discovery of JJ and Tylee's remains. While it's still unclear in court documents what exact role he may have played in their deaths, Lori's friend has told police that the last time she saw JJ alive was when JJ was asleep on Cox's shoulder the day before JJ went missing.

Police were able to pinpoint the exact location of the children's remains in Chad Daybell's yard, documents state, based on GPS and location data from Cox's cell phone.