Authorities are searching for an Idaho couple after the man’s ex-wife was found dead and his two stepchildren were reported missing — and relatives worry that the family may have joined a religious sect predicting the end of the world.
According to a press release by the Rexburg Police Department, the baffling case began this fall.
“On October 19, 2019, family members found Tammy Daybell, 49, dead in her home,” the press release reads. “At the time, [her] death was believed to be natural. Subsequent investigation determined that Daybell’s death may be suspicious. Her remains were exhumed…and an autopsy conducted.”
The press release continues: “During the course of the investigation by the FSCO, investigators were made aware that two children, ages 7 and 17, were missing. Investigators determined that within a couple weeks of Daybell’s death, her surviving husband, Chad Daybell, had married Rexburg reisdent Lori Vallow, who is the mother of the missing children.”
The two children — Joshua Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17 — were last seen in September, according to the Rexburg Police Department.
Police conducted a welfare check on November 26 after receiving calls from concerned relatives. They spoke with Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow. According to the press release, Vallow and Daybell told authorities that Joshua was with a family friend in Arizona. Police later found out the boy, who is adopted and has special needs, was not staying with the friend.
Police soon discovered that Tylee had also not been seen since September.
Officers returned the following day to execute a search warrant on the home in hopes of finding the children. Upon their arrival, they determined that Vallow and Daybell allegedly “abruptly” left their home and fled the area, police said. The children did not appear to be with them.
Vallow’s nephew by marriage, Brandon Boudreaux, tells Fox 13 Salt Lake City that the family’s religious beliefs may have led to the children’s disappearances — and that they may have joined a radical religious group.
Daybell is an author who writes books about prophecy and the end of the world.
“I don’t know what happened to those kids, but I know there’s people who do, and they’re not talking,” Boudreaux tells the station. “I love them both. I hope they’re safe. They’re both just innocent and they didn’t deserve to be involved in any of this.”
Anyone who has seen either child since September is asked to call 208-359-3000 or 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678). Police added that Joshua may go by the nickname “JJ.”