The older brother of two siblings who apparently disappeared from Idaho in September says he’s “done” with their mother, who has refused to cooperate in the investigation and last week defied a court order to turn the missing kids over to police or child welfare officials.
Colby Ryan says he turned his back on his mother, Lori Vallow, and her new husband after seeing video of the couple in Hawaii, where authorities tracked them last month after police say they “abruptly vacated” their Idaho home in November as the search bore down for 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan.
“I’m done. I’ve been done. The day that I saw them without the kids walking around Hawaii, that was it,” Ryan told Fox10 Phoenix.
But he also says he doesn’t think Vallow would hurt his siblings. “I feel like my mom would die for the kids, so to see this and hear it, and also be questioning why they’re not being found, that’s where this all comes into a battle [between] what you think and what you feel,” he said.
Police have said they “strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives are in danger,” and in a statement alleged that Vallow “has refused to work with law enforcement to help us resolve this matter.”
Relatives of Vallow have raised other concerns. Vallow allegedly believes she is “a God assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020,” according to a divorce court filing by her estranged husband and the children’s father, Charles Vallow. The man to whom Vallow is currently married, Chad Daybell, is an author who writes about doomsday prophecy.
Charles Vallow was shot and killed in a July confrontation at Lori Vallow’s home with Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, who has since also died. Lori Vallow and Daybell subsequently married after the October death of Daybell’s then-wife, Tammy, which police have called “suspicious.”
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“There’s too many deaths — people dying — around Lori for it to all be natural. Unless she is the most unlucky person in the world,” Kay Woodcock, a grandmother to one of the missing kids, said at a news conference last Thursday.
Mom Initially Said Slain Ex Died of Heart Attack, Says Son
Colby is the half-brother to J.J. and Tylee. Colby earlier issued a plea in a video he posted to YouTube, asking his mom to safely return the missing children and end the uncertainty “for everybody, for the kids, for yourself, for all of us.”
In the interview Monday with the Phoenix TV station, Colby says his relationship with his mom began to strain about a year ago when Vallow abruptly left Arizona for Hawaii with Tylee, leaving behind J.J., an adopted son who has special needs, and Charles, who was Colby’s stepfather. He says she returned after about a month and Lori and Charles Vallow later separated.
When Lori called to tell Colby about Charles’ death, he says his mom initially said Charles had a heart attack — an alleged lie that emerged when Colby visited her later that same day, and he learned about the confrontation between Charles Vallow and Alex Cox.
“Why would you not tell me what was going on? This is worse, this is a million times worse than what you said,” Ryan says he recalled thinking. “No matter what happened, why was he shot in the chest, why was he killed? That just doesn’t make sense, why did he have to die for a fight?”
Then, in August 2019, Colby says he learned Lori planned to leave Arizona again, this time with J.J. and Tylee. “She said, ‘I got a new job’ and that she was moving, so that was it, that’s all she told me and she didn’t tell me where,” he said.
He did not initially know they had moved to Idaho — and the day before last Thanksgiving, he learned something was amiss when police showed up at his door to ask about J.J. and Tylee.
“I called my mom and I’m like, ‘Two detectives just came to my door, what is going on?’ And she said ‘I got it, I’ll take care of it … Love you,’ and that was it,” he said.
Lori Vallow had initially told investigators that J.J. had returned to live in Arizona — another claim that was allegedly quickly disproven by authorities.
In his YouTube video posted in early January, Colby said he was “hurt” by the situation and that his mother has an “opportunity to put this all to rest.”
“I know you know [what] the right thing to do is and I know you have a good heart,” Colby said. “It’s time to do the right thing.”
Mom Missed Deadline to Produce Kids
After locating Vallow and Daybell January 25 on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, authorities served notice that Vallow had five days to turn over the missing kids to police or child welfare officials or risk a civil or contempt of court citation. That deadline passed with no apparent action taken. The grandmother, Woodcock, says she was told by police in Rexburg, Idaho, that the couple remained for now in Hawaii with no sign of the children.
“We are grateful for the concern and attention being shown regarding the location, health and safety of Tylee Ryan and J.J. Vallow,” Madison County, Idaho, prosecutor Rob Wood said in a statement last week obtained by PEOPLE. “We hope and pray that the children will be produced or found and that they are safe and healthy.”
Anyone with information about either missing child is asked to call Rexburg police 208-359-3000 or 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678).