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Prosecutors drop felony child abandonment charges against ‘cult’ mom Lori Vallow

Idaho prosecutors dismissed two felony counts of child abandonment and desertion against Lori Vallow (pictured) days after slapping the 'cult' mom with two new felony charges for conspiracy to destroy evidence following the discovery of her missing children's bodies

Idaho prosecutors dismissed two felony counts of child abandonment and desertion against Lori Vallow (pictured) days after slapping the ‘cult’ mom with two new felony charges for conspiracy to destroy evidence following the discovery of her missing children’s bodies

Idaho prosecutors have dropped child abandonment charges against Lori Vallow days after slapping the ‘cult’ mom with two new counts of conspiracy to destroy evidence following the discovery of her missing children’s bodies.  

Lori was charged with two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of children back in February amid the desperate search for her seven-year-old son Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow and 17-year-old daughter Tylee Ryan.  

Those charges were dismissed on Thursday – three weeks after police found the children’s remains buried on the property of Chad Daybell, whom Lori married weeks after they disappeared last September. 

Lori appeared in court via Zoom from the Madison County Jail on Tuesday night, where prosecutor Rob Wood read out two new counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. 

She is also facing misdemeanor charges of resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime and contempt of court, which were filed at the time of her arrest. 

The remains of Tylee Ryan (left) and Joshua 'JJ' Vallow were discovered on the property of Lori Vallow's husband Chad Daybell on June 9 - nine months after they went missing

The remains of Tylee Ryan (left) and Joshua 'JJ' Vallow were discovered on the property of Lori Vallow's husband Chad Daybell on June 9 - nine months after they went missing

The remains of Tylee Ryan (left) and Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow were discovered on the property of Lori Vallow’s husband Chad Daybell on June 9 – nine months after they went missing 

Chad was arrested on June 9, the same day the bodies were found, on two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence, to which he pleaded not guilty. 

Prosecutors added two new felony counts for conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration, or concealment of evidence this week.  

Chad Daybell, 51, was arrested on June 9 and charged with two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence

Chad Daybell, 51, was arrested on June 9 and charged with two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence

Lori’s husband Chad Daybell (pictured) is also facing felony charges for destruction or concealment of evidence 

Court documents say the he and Lori ‘willfully and knowingly combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence’ – that evidence being the remains of Tylee and JJ. 

The documents state that JJ’s remains were easy to identify but Tylee’s was decomposed beyond recognition that she had to be identified by her jawline. 

‘It was not possible to identify those remains by simply looking at them as they were too damaged by fire and dismemberment and no longer had any recognizable features,’ authorities wrote.

‘However, Dr. Glen Smith, an orthodontist and Deputy Coroner in the Ada County Coroner’s Office was able to identify these remains as belonging to Tylee Ryan by matching an irregular jawline with an X-ray of Tylee when she was alive.’ 

Both Lori and Chad are being held behind bars in lieu of $1million bond. They are facing up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine on each of the felony counts. 

No one has been charged directly over the children’s deaths as the investigation continues. 

In this aerial photo, investigators search for human remains at Chad Daybell's residence in the 200 block of 1900 East in Salem, Idaho on June 9

In this aerial photo, investigators search for human remains at Chad Daybell's residence in the 200 block of 1900 East in Salem, Idaho on June 9

In this aerial photo, investigators search for human remains at Chad Daybell’s residence in the 200 block of 1900 East in Salem, Idaho on June 9 

Chad appeared in court on Wednesday to hear the new charges against him. He showed no emotion and spoke only to answer ‘yes’, ‘I do’ and ‘thank you’ to questions posed by the judge. 

The amended criminal complaint came two days after investigators carried out another search at his property in Salem, Idaho, though it is unclear whether the new charges stemmed from evidence found during that search. 

Chad is set to appear in court again for a preliminary hearing on August 3 and 4. 

Chad is seen appearing in court via Zoom on Wednesday, where the new conspiracy charges against him were read

Chad is seen appearing in court via Zoom on Wednesday, where the new conspiracy charges against him were read

Chad is seen appearing in court via Zoom on Wednesday, where the new conspiracy charges against him were read

Lori put on an emotional display during her own court appearance on Tuesday, wiping away tears as she was also charged with conspiracy and her eldest son, Colby Ryan, watched with his wife Kelsee.  

Joined by her attorney, Mark Means, Lori spoke only to answer ‘yes’ to confirm she understood the new charges, her rights and had received a copy of her arrest prior to the hearing.

At one point, the mother, who had repeatedly refused to say where her children were before the grim discovery of their remains, reached for a tissue and wiped away tears from her eyes.    

Colby, the distraught brother of JJ and Tylee, appeared overcome with emotion as he listed to the new charges.  

There was some disagreement between Means and Wood after the prosecutor noted that Lori’s attorney had represented Chad in the past.  

Judge Faren Eddins said he would make a decision over whether there was any conflict of interest in Means now representing Lori. 

Her next court hearing has been scheduled for August 10 and is expected to last for two days.   

Lori Vallow (bottom left) appeared in court Tuesday via a Zoom call to face her new charges - while her emotional adult son Colby Ryan (bottom right) watched on

Lori Vallow (bottom left) appeared in court Tuesday via a Zoom call to face her new charges - while her emotional adult son Colby Ryan (bottom right) watched on

Lori Vallow (bottom left) appeared in court Tuesday via a Zoom call to face her new charges – while her emotional adult son Colby Ryan (bottom right) watched on

At one point during the hearing Lori reached for a tissue and dabbed tears from her eyes

At one point during the hearing Lori reached for a tissue and dabbed tears from her eyes

At one point during the hearing Lori reached for a tissue and dabbed tears from her eyes 

Devastated relatives of Tylee and JJ issued a joint statement Wednesday asking for privacy and thanking people for their support as they grieve.

‘We are utterly devastated trying to comprehend how our children, full of brilliant light and jubilance for life, ended at the hands of those who were supposed to love and protect them,’ the families wrote.

The families said they have faith in the judicial system and are confident justice will prevail. 

Public memorial services will be held at some point in Rexburg, Idaho, where the kids last lived, Phoenix, their home before Idaho, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, where JJ’s grandparents live, they added.  

A probable cause affidavit alleges that Lori's brother Alex Cox (pictured) helped bury the bodies

A probable cause affidavit alleges that Lori's brother Alex Cox (pictured) helped bury the bodies

A probable cause affidavit alleges Lori’s brother Alex Cox (pictured) helped bury the children’s bodies 

Investigators dug up the bodies on Chad’s property on June 9 – marking the conclusion of a seven-month, multi-state search for the children who hadn’t been seen since September 2019 but were never reported missing by their mother.

The story captured nationwide attention with the revelations that police were also investigating at least three suspicious deaths linked to Lori and Chad, as well as relatives’ claims that the couple are members of a dangerous doomsday cult. 

Three weeks after the bodies were recovered, many questions in the complicated case remain unanswered. 

Chilling new details about the investigation emerged last week when two probable cause affidavits linked to Lori and Chad’s arrests were unsealed. 

One of the affidavits, filed the day after Chad was arrested, alleges that Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, brought the bodies to the property to bury them.  

The FBI released this photo of JJ and Tylee with their uncle Alex Cox on September 8, 2019 - the last day Tylee was seen. Police alleged that Cox brought Tylee to Chad's property and buried her hours later on the morning of September 9

The FBI released this photo of JJ and Tylee with their uncle Alex Cox on September 8, 2019 - the last day Tylee was seen. Police alleged that Cox brought Tylee to Chad's property and buried her hours later on the morning of September 9

The FBI released this photo of JJ and Tylee with their uncle Alex Cox on September 8, 2019 – the last day Tylee was seen. Police alleged that Cox brought Tylee to Chad’s property and buried her hours later on the morning of September 9

Timeline of JJ and Tylee’s disappearance 

July 11, 2019: Lori Vallow’s husband, Charles Vallow, is killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona. 

August: Lori moves children JJ and Tylee to Rexburg, Idaho, where Chad Daybell lives with his wife Tammy.

September 8: The last time Tylee is seen during a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Lori, JJ and Alex. 

September 23: The last time JJ is seen at his school in Rexburg.  

October 19: Chad’s wife Tammy, 49, dies at their Idaho home. 

October 25: A friend of Tylee receives a vague ‘miss you’ text from her phone but says that it didn’t sound like the teen.   

November 5: Lori and Chad tie the knot on a beach in Kauai.  

November 26: Out-of-state relatives ask Idaho police to perform a welfare check on JJ and learn both he and Tylee have not been seen for months.  

November 27: Police execute a search warrant related to the children at Lori’s home and discover that she and Chad have fled Idaho.

December 11: Tammy’s body is exhumed from a Utah cemetery and her death is reclassified as suspicious.

December 12: Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, is found unresponsive in Arizona and dies.  

December 21: Rexburg police issue the first press release about JJ and Tylee, revealing they believe their disappearance could be linked to Tammy’s death.

December 24: Lori and Chad issue a statement through an attorney saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing ‘allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor’.

December 30: Police accuse Lori and Chad of lying to investigators and say they believe the couple know where the kids are or what happened to them.

January 3, 2020: Police search Chad’s home in Salem and remove 43 items. They also comb over sections of the snow-covered yard with rakes and metal detectors.

January 26: Lori and Chad are seen for the first time in months as police serve them with a court order to produce the children to authorities in Idaho in five days. 

January 30: Lori misses the court deadline to produce the children to Idaho authorities.

February 20: Lori is arrested in Kauai. 

March 5: Lori is extradited to Idaho, where she is held on $1million bond at Madison County Jail. 

April 9: Authorities reveal they are investigating Lori and Chad for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with Tammy’s death. 

June 9:Police search Chad’s home in Salem for the second time and discover human remains in the backyard. Chad is taken into police custody and charged with destruction or concealment of evidence.

A ping from Cox’s cellphone showed him at the site where Tylee’s remains were found on September 9, the day after she was last seen. 

Two later pings on September 23, the day JJ vanished, showed Cox at the site where the boy’s remains were found a few feet away in the yard.

It wasn’t until nine weeks later that Rexburg Police learned the children were missing when officers performed a welfare check at Lori’s apartment in Rexburg on November 26, after relatives said they hadn’t seen JJ in months.  

During that welfare check Chad ‘acted as if he didn’t know Lori very well and stated he didn’t know her phone number’, Lt Ron Ball wrote in an affidavit.

Investigators soon discovered that was a lie when they came across photos of Chad and Lori’s wedding three weeks earlier on a beach in Hawaii.   

Lori and her brother told detectives that the children were visiting relatives, which was also determined to be a lie. 

She and Chad fled from Idaho to Hawaii the day after the welfare check.  

The affidavits also describe how Lori complained that her ‘Satan-loving’ son JJ was ‘acting like a zombie’ and knocked a photo of Jesus off her refrigerator just hours before he vanished.    

Cox mysteriously died in Gilbert, Arizona, on December 12, about a month after police began searching for the children.  

An autopsy determined that the 51-year-old died of natural causes but noted that he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system at the time.  

His death is one of at least three that cops began investigating in connection with the kids’ disappearance.  

Lori’s estranged husband Charles Vallow was shot dead by Cox in Arizona on July 11. 

Charles and Lori had gotten into an argument when the father came to pick up JJ at the mother’s home in Chandler. 

Lori’s brother intervened and fatally shot Charles. 

Police initially determined that he acted in self defense – but the case was reopened amid the multi-state search for JJ and Tylee, who had moved to Idaho, where Chad lived, with their mother in August.    

A couple of months later, Chad’s first wife Tammy Daybell was found dead at the home they shared on October 19. 

An obituary stated that Tammy passed away in her sleep and her cause of death was ruled as natural after Chad reportedly declined an autopsy. 

Investigators reopened the case after learning that JJ and Tylee were missing, as their mother had married Chad just two weeks after Tammy died. 

They believe the two cases could be linked.

Tammy’s body was exhumed on December 11 and the autopsy results have not yet been released.  

Police tracked Lori and Chad down in Princeville, Hawaii, in late January and served the mother with a court order requiring her to physically produce the children to authorities in Idaho by January 30. 

Lori failed to meet the deadline, prompting her arrest and extradition to Idaho, where she is currently being held at Madison County Jail. 

In April it was revealed that the Idaho Attorney General’s Office and Fremont County Sheriff’s Office are investigating Lori and Chad for murder in Tammy’s death.  

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