Doomsday cult writer Chad Daybell and fan Lori Vallow’s story is a compilation of one of the strangest, most bizarre chain of events that seems to be spiraling down faster than the speed of light. The middle-aged couple from Idaho is wanted in multiple murder investigations and was found to have fled to Hawaii after Lori’s children Tylee Ryan (17) and Joshua JJ Vallow (7) went missing. They were last seen in September 2018.
Just days before Chad’s wife died, he is said to have told his friends that he had a vision of her leaving him. Then, the couple told neighbors that Lori did not have any minor children and that Tylee had died years ago.
The two tied the knot mere days after Chad’s wife’s death.
Here is everything you need to know about this couple.
Chad and Tammy Daybell’s marriage and Tammy’s ‘natural’ death
The two were high school sweethearts. Chad and Tammy Douglas Daybell married in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Manti Utah Temple, on March 9, 1990, after quickly falling in love. The two met while she was at Brigham Young University. Soon after, she started working at the local cemetery while Chad still went to school. Their marriage seemed quite happy from the outside and Tammy was a doting mother. But then, on October 19, 2019, she suddenly died in Salem, Idaho.
Ten days prior, she had called 911 after a masked man had shot her with a paintball gun.
Her husband insisted that her autopsy not be done and initially, the police had declared she had died of “natural” causes. However, the police are taking another look at Tammy’s death after Lori’s children disappeared. They are also looking at her fourth husband, who was shot dead by her brother – who also died in July.
Chad said Tammy helped him find love from beyond the grave
Days after Tammy’s sudden and mysterious death, Chad and his newly-wed Lori were looking for a home in Hawaii. According to Fox 10, Daybell told the landlady that his dead wife was helping him find love again.
“I woke up that morning and she had been dead for a couple of hours but she had a peaceful look on her face at her burial. I felt her tell me she was happy and helping our family on the other side of the veil. She helped me reconnect with Lori so quickly and it helped my children move forward,” he had said in a bizarre text. The report also says that Chad is “believed to be the leader of doomsday preppers”.
Homeowner Jeani Martin said that the couple came over unannounced on November 7, two weeks after Tammy was buried and believed that God has told them which house to go to. “They were just like two teenagers that had just been set free and they were just giddy,” Martin remembered, “(The) only thing I saw was Tammy’s obituary and just the way they were in my house, so happy and free, and now I’m thinking, free of the spouses, free of the kids.”
He later went on to change his mind about the rental but Martin asked him about Tammy’s death. She also remembered later when she saw them on the news that they had not mentioned the children.
The couple’s romance and the death of Lori’s husband
According to East Idaho News, Chad and Lori were featured together on a doomsday podcast (we are unable to use the name of the podcast due to a cease and desist order given by the organization). It has since been deleted. Two months after this podcast began, Lori’s husband, Charles Vallow, filed for divorce in early 2019.
According to AZ Central, court documents said that Lori believed she was “a God” and that she did not want Joshua or Charles in her life because she had “more important mission to carry out”. Charles Vallow claimed that she thought she was “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020,” the court documents said. He also alleged that his wife had threatened to kill him if he got in her way and that she had “an angel there to help her dispose of the body. Charles had taken out an order of protection after these threats were made.
Documents said that she had “become infatuated and, at times, obsessive about near-death experiences and spiritual visions” and had refused help from professionals because she believed “they would discover that she is a translated being”. He had also filed for the sole custody of Joshua, a special needs child.
The family also said that while the proceedings were going on in February 2019, she had disappeared for two months and they didn’t know where she had been. In July 2019, Charles Vallow was shot to death by Alex Cox, Lori’s brother. At the time, the divorce had been dismissed.
In December 2019, Cox also died under mysterious circumstances. According to Fox 10 Pheonix, he was found passed out “in his own excreta”.
Cox had claimed he shot Charles in self-defense after he refused to put a baseball bat down. Lori was home at the time but not a witness. The investigations are still underway. Charles Vallow’s lawyer Steven M Ellsworth had said that he had genuinely feared for his life during the proceedings and had been extremely concerned about the children.
The timeline of the missing kids
Tylee Ryan, 17, was from Lori’s third marriage with Joseph Ryan in 2001. The couple divorced in 2004 and the father died on April 3, 2018, from a heart attack. He was cremated. With her marriage with Daybell, she is married five times, with two of her husbands now dead. Joshua was Lori and Charles Vallow’s adopted son from their marriage between 2006 and 2019.
Lori and the children were living in Rexburg in September 2019. JJ was enrolled at Kennedy Elementary School. He was last seen in class on September 23, three weeks after joining the school. Lori had unenrolled him, claiming she meant to homeschool him. As for Tylee, who had graduated early, she was also last seen the same month, although unclear where.
According to the Post Register, Tylee’s friend had received a text from her number on October 25 that said, “hi. miss you guys too .luv ya.” However, the friend told the publication that they thought it wasn’t their friend. “She spelled out her words for the most part,” the friend said, “Plus, she would have texted more if I reached out.”
Joshua JJ Vallow, Tylee Ryan (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)
In November 2019, the Rexburg Police conducted a welfare check on JJ after the extended family got worried about him. They had not spoken to him or seen him in months. The couple told them that the children were at a friend’s place in Arizona. However, a further probe led to the story being untrue.
The very next morning on November 27 when police arrived at their home, they had already fled. As the investigators dug deeper, they realized that they needed to look at all associated cases with the couple once again. The search for the children went public in December 2019. They believe that Tammy’s death was connected to the kids.
The Daybell’s lawyers have slammed allegations saying they were “loving” and “devoted”. Meanwhile, the police have slammed the couple for not cooperating with the search at all. On December 30, 2019, the Rexburg Police Department said that they “also have information indicating that Lori knows either the location of the children or what has happened to them.”
JJ’s grandparents Larry and Kay Woodcock have announced a reward for information that would help find the children. Chad’s brother also pleaded with him to cooperate with the investigation.
Lori’s niece and aunt were in a cult
Malanie Boudreaux, Lori’s niece, served her husband Brandon Boudreaux divorce papers in June. Brandon claimed that both Lori and Melanie had joined a “cult” and that he had been shocked by the divorce. In a Facebook post, he added that he had been shot on his way home from the gym in October and the bullet had barely missed his head.
“As someone who has spent the last two months in hiding to protect my kids, I don’t take this lightly. But I want to be a person who stands and fights for truth and justice I have thought a lot about it and I have to share this. I can no longer sit by when by sharing I might help someone who knows something to come forward,” he wrote on December 21, 2019.
Kay and Larry Woodcock speak to the media at the Rexburg Standard Journal Newspaper in Rexburg, Idaho, on January 7, 2020 (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP)
According to AZ Central, the jeep was registered to Charles Vallow, who had died in July.
He said that Lori was “a wonderful, loving, attentive mother” but “things started changing over the past 18+ months when Lori began spending all her time with a new religious group, that we refer to as a cult.” He said that Charles did “his best to save the marriage, of which she had no interest”.
Talking about his own marriage, Brandon said, “My wife at this time Melani began spending a lot of time with this group, at the end of June she demanded a divorce claiming revelation about things that were not real and there was no evidence given just a claim of being told by the savior.”
This January 7, 2020, photo shows the townhouse complex in Rexburg, Idaho, where Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell were last seen. Their relatives are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to their recovery. (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP)
The couple was served a notice by the Kuai Police Department in Hawaii on January 25 to produce JJ and Tylee to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare or Rexburg Police Department in five days. Lori missed the 5 pm deadline.