The human remains found on doomsday author Chad Daybell’s Idaho property are the bodies of his jailed wife’s children, who disappeared in September, relatives said on Wednesday.
The disclosure, which has not been confirmed by police, tragically answers the central question in a missing persons case that has unfolded over six months: Where are J.J. Vallow and Tylee Ryan?
But many mysteries remain, including how the siblings died, who buried them, and who told authorities exactly where to find their bodies, and whether Daybell and wife Lori Vallow’s apocalyptic religious beliefs played any role.
Daybell and Vallow are each jailed on $1 million bail—though not charged with causing J.J. and Tylee’s deaths—while other relatives reel from an outcome they long feared.
“We are filled with unfathomable sadness that these two bright stars were stolen from us, and only hope that they died without pain or suffering,” the families said in a statement. “We ask that you respect our family’s privacy while we grieve—we have only just been told the loss of our loved ones and need time to process.”
JJ’s cousin, Zac Cox, also spoke out about the heartbreaking developments, writing, “You did not deserve any of this and I am just heartbroken. I am sick. I love you both so much.”
Authorities have said only that the remains of two children were found on Daybell’s property on Tuesday afternoon, where FBI agents and police brought in backhoes and erected tents around a particular patch of land.
At a detention hearing on Wednesday, Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood said the discovery of the bodies would give Daybell “a strong incentive to flee,” noting that “the concealment of one of the bodies is particularly egregious.”
“We would ask that the bail reflect that,” he said, asking that the judge set it at $1 million.
According to a criminal complaint, prosecutors allege that between September 2019 and June 2020, Daybell “willfully” concealed and destroyed the human remains, knowing they “were about to be produced, used and/or discovered as evidence in a felony proceeding.”
He was charged with two counts of felony destruction and concealment of evidence, each carrying a maximum sentence of five year in prison. Daybell’s attorney argued on Wednesday the relatively low sentence meant bail should be set as low as $50,000.
“Mr. Daybell has every intention of staying in the community... publicity is not a reason to raise the bail a significant amount,” defense lawyer John Prior said. He also claimed nothing in Daybell’s history suggests he is a flight risk—even though both he and Vallow skipped to Hawaii after cops began asking questions about the vanished children in November.
“The events of the past nine months have weighed heavily on our family—it has been one of the most difficult things we have ever had to go through,” Matt Daybell, Chad’s brother, and his wife said in a statement Wednesday. “Some in our extended family are still struggling to accept the reality that Chad could have been involved in something so terribly wrong.”
Daybell’s wife was previously jailed on $1 million bail after she refused to comply with a court order to produce 7-year-old J.J. and 17-year-old Tylee. Authorities charged her with child desertion, obstructing police, and asking a friend to lie to investigators. She has denied the allegations.
J.J. and Tylee had not been seen since September, although it wasn’t until relatives asked police to check on them in late November that they were registered as missing. Police say Vallow lied to them about the kids’ whereabouts and then she and Vallow skipped town.
The children’s disappearance brought scrutiny to the couple’s involvement in a community of doomsday preppers—and to the deaths of Vallow’s and Daybell’s previous spouses.
Daybell’s wife Tammy died of unknown causes in October. He declined an autopsy and married Vallow weeks later. Vallow’s husband, Charles Vallow, was shot in July—supposedly by her brother, Alex Cox, who said he fired in self-defense during a domestic dispute. Cox was not charged and later died of natural causes.
Charles Vallow had written in divorce and custody petitions that Lori had become obsessed with doomsday visions and had threatened his life. He said she believed she was reincarnated to lead people during the second coming of Jesus in July 2020 and said that if he got in the way of her saving humanity, she would kill him, according to NBC News.
Police have exhumed the body of Tammy Daybell, who was found dead at home. Initially listed as a natural death, it has since been classified as suspicious; an autopsy report has not yet been released.
The Idaho Attorney General's office in April took over an investigation into Daybell and Vallow in connection with Tammy's death. One court document in the case reveals potential charges could include conspiracy and murder, but no one has been charged.
The couple initially had the same attorney. But now Daybell is being represented by a new lawyer.
Prior also has a criminal past. In 2011, the lawyer was indicted for felony battery with intent to commit rape after he allegedly tried to force himself on a 20-year-old woman at his law office who was “seeking a job and advice on a child-custody case.”
His lawyer told the jury in opening statements that Prior had paid the woman for sex and alleged the woman later lied about the incident to her boyfriend, family, and authorities. Prior took a mid-trial plea down to misdemeanor battery in September 2012.
According to Oregon Live, however, the woman told jurors before the plea deal that Prior offered her money, employment, and assistance in her legal case if she would have sex with him—and he attempted to force himself on her when she refused.