Kids’ bodies found in doomsday house
The bodies of two children missing since September in circumstances so bizarre they grabbed global attention have been found at the rural property of their doomsday parents, family members say.
Joshua "JJ" Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17, have been missing since September last year.
Chad Daybell, who married the children's mother Lori Vallow, was arrested on suspicion of concealing or destroying evidence last week.
Lori has already been charged with child abandonment, obstructing an investigation, contempt of court and soliciting a crime after the couple were found in Hawaii without their children months after they went missing.
Besides the missing children, the couple was already under scrutiny following the deaths of both of their former spouses.
Police from the small town of Rexburg, Idaho, the FBI and sheriff's investigators searched Daybell's home in the eastern Idaho town of Salem yesterday, bringing in backhoes and setting up tents in a nearby field.
The extended family has now said the children were found there in "egregious circumstances" but they did not elaborate.
Suspicions about the couple's bizarre behaviour started with family members who then urged police to investigate.
First JJ disappeared on September 8 and weeks later Tylee disappeared. Lori wouldn't give a straight answer about where they were.
Soon strangers around the world were following the case, transfixed by the increasingly strange circumstances surrounding the couple's rumoured links to doomsday cult-like beliefs and their sudden move to Hawaii.
"Throughout the investigation, detectives and investigators have recovered what's believed to be human remains that have not been identified at this time," Rexburg Assistant Police Chief Gary Hagan said at a news conference.
Chad Daybell was charged on Wednesday with concealing or destroying human remains. A lawyer he hired to represent him in April didn't respond to a request for comment, and court records don't show if the same person will represent him in the criminal case.
Court documents suggest that things began to unravel for the family early last year, 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.
He said she 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.
He asserted that the shooting was in self defence after Vallow 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.
Lori moved to Idaho with the kids, where the family stayed in an apartment in Rexburg and Lori started 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 organisation aimed at members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At the time, he was married to Tammy Daybell, a fit 49-year-old school librarian who helped him run a small publishing company.
Chad also had written several books, largely focused on doomsday scenarios and loosely based on church theology.
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 and Lori were married.
JJ's grandparents first became worried when their once-regular phone calls stopped and Lori could not give a satisfactory explanation as to why they had stopped.
The Woodcocks asked Rexburg police to check on the kids. When officers stopped by to question the couple, they say Chad lied about the children's whereabouts. When investigators returned the next day to follow up, the Daybells were gone.
The couple had moved to Hawaii, and the investigation pushed forward in Idaho, Arizona and Utah, where Tammy Daybell was buried.
Eventually, a judge ordered Lori to prove the children were safe by bringing them to officials. She refused and was charged with child abandonment and other crimes, then extradited to Idaho.
"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 (May 25) in honour of our little man … We are comforted knowing their commitment is as strong as ours."
In a statement, family members said they hoped the children "died without pain or suffering".
- with AP
Originally published as Kids' bodies found in doomsday house