Police say that they believe the mother of two missing children knows where they are and what happened to them — but has chosen not to cooperate in the investigation.
The two children — Joshua Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17 — were last seen in September, according to the Rexburg Police Department. Authorities located their mother, Lori Vallow, and found she had married Chad Daybell, a religious author who writes about prophecy and the end of the world.
Daybell’s wife, Tammy, was found dead in October under suspicious circumstances.
During the investigation into Tammy Daybell’s death, police discovered the children were missing.
Police conducted a welfare check on November 26 after receiving calls from concerned relatives. They spoke with Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow. According to a police department press release earlier this month, Vallow and Daybell told authorities that Joshua was with a family friend in Arizona. But police later learned the boy, who is adopted and has special needs, was not staying with the friend.
Now, in a blistering new statement, police say that the children’s mother has been uncooperative.
“Lori Vallow has completely refused to assist this investigation,” Rexburg police said in the statement on Monday. “We know that the children are not with Lori and Chad Daybell and we also have information indicating that Lori knows either the location of the children or what has happened to them. Despite having this knowledge, she has refused to work with law enforcement to help us resolve this matter.”
“It is astonishing that rather than work with law enforcement to help us locate her own children, Lori Vallow has chosen instead to leave the state with her new husband,” the release continues. “We strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives are in danger.”
Relatives reportedly worry that the family may have joined a secretive religious sect.
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE’s free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.
Vallow’s nephew by marriage, Brandon Boudreaux, told 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.
“I don’t know what happened to those kids, but I know there’s people who do, and they’re not talking,” Boudreaux told 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.”
Authorities have now made a open appeal to Lori Vallow for her help.
“We publicly call on Lori Vallow/Daybell and Chad Daybell to do the right thing and come forward with the information they have about the location and welfare of Joshua and Tylee,” the Rexburg police said in the new statement. “This entire investigation could have been avoided if Lori and Chad had simply been honest with law enforcement. We further continue to ask that anyone with any information regarding the location or welfare of Joshua and Tylee share that information with law enforcement.”
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.”