In the fall of 2019, the close-knit, religious town of Rexburg, Idaho — dubbed “America’s Family Community” — was stunned by the disappearance of 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow.
The two had last been seen alive that September, and as authorities opened an investigation into the missing children, they began looking at their mother, Lori Vallow, and her new husband and doomsday author, Chad Daybell, in hopes of finding answers.
As of yet, no one has been charged for Tylee and J.J.’s murders, and the investigation is ongoing.
The case will be featured in the season two premiere of “Injustice with Nancy Grace,” airing Thursday, October 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Oxygen. As television’s most respected legal analyst and victims’ rights advocate, Grace brings her unique perspective to some of the most complex and current true crime stories, shining a light on investigative and legal injustices.
Before tuning in, get up to speed on the investigation with the timeline below.
Divorced mother Lori (sometimes referred to as Lori Daybell or Lori Vallow Daybell) marries her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. At the time, Lori had two children from previous relationships: her eldest son, Colby Ryan, and daughter, Tylee Ryan.
Lori and Charles adopt J.J. Vallow, the grandchild of Charles’ sister, Kay Woodcock.
Fall Of 2014
Lori comes across the work of author Chad Daybell, who had written multiple books chronicling the end of times that were marketed toward The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints followers. Lori becomes very interested in Chad’s work and starts up an online correspondence with him.
Chad claimed that after a near-death experience, he was able to receive direct messages from God. He asserted the world would end on July 22, 2020 in a slew of natural disasters, welcoming the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Seeing himself as a prophet of the Lord, Chad touted that he had been chosen to lead a select 144,000 people protected by God through doomsday. He also claimed he was able to see people’s souls and could tell if they had light or dark spirits. He reportedly called those with dark spirits “zombies” who could only be freed if the body was killed.
Fall Of 2018
Lori attends a conference where Chad is signing books, and the two finally meet in person. Around this time, Chad reportedly tells Lori that her husband has become a zombie, according to online newspaper East Idaho News.
January 31, 2019
Charles contacts the Gilbert Police Department and reports that his wife is “mentally unstable” and has “lost her mind.” He tells police that Lori believes she is a resurrected being and that she has threatened his life. Charles also says that he is concerned she will harm her children.
February 18, 2019
Charles files for divorce and petitions for full custody of J.J. He dismisses the divorce proceedings the following month.
July 11, 2019
Charles attempts to pick up J.J. from Lori’s house in Arizona, and an altercation ensues. Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, shoots Charles twice in the chest, and he later tells police he gunned him down in self-defense. He claims Charles hit him in the back of the head with a bat, and that he grabbed his gun to defend himself.
August 31, 2019
Lori and Cox move to Rexburg with Tylee and J.J.
September 19, 2019
Lori’s friend Melanie Gibb visits Lori in Idaho, and Lori reportedly tells her that J.J. and Tylee have become possessed by zombies. Gibb later tells police she did not see Tylee the entire trip. Gibb also says she notices Lori and Chad engage in public displays of affection, even though he still married to his wife, Tammy Daybell, according to East Idaho News.
September 22, 2019
During her visit, Gibb says she sees Cox holding J.J., who was sleeping on his shoulder. This is J.J.’s last known sighting, according to a probable cause affidavit.
October 19, 2019
Tammy dies in her sleep. Chad declines to have an autopsy performed.
November 5, 2019
Chad and Lori get married in Hawaii and begin their honeymoon.
November 26, 2019
After Kay and her husband, Larry Woodcock, contact police to report that they have not seen or heard from the family for three months, authorities perform a welfare check on J.J. Lori tells police that J.J. is staying with Gibb in Arizona, but when they contact Gibb, she says he is not with her. Authorities return the following day with a search warrant, but they find the house empty and Lori gone.
November 27, 2019
Authorities search a storage unit rented by Lori in Idaho, and inside, they find multiple items connected to the missing children, including two quilts made from photographs of Tylee and J.J.
The Rexburg Police Department open a missing persons case, and they contact the FBI and begin tracking Lori and Chad’s movements.
Tammy’s remains are exhumed for an autopsy after investigators deem her death suspicious.
December 1, 2019
Flight records show Lori and Chad fly to Hawaii out of Los Angeles International Airport without Tylee and J.J.
December 12, 2019
Cox is found dead on the floor of his bathroom, and an autopsy later concludes that he died of natural causes.
December 20, 2019
Authorities make the case public and release that on Sept. 8, 2019, Lori, Cox, Tylee, and J.J. visited Yellowstone National Park. The family had taken photos together, and one photo of Tylee captured the last time authorities found any record of her being with her mother.
“We have found no witnesses who can verify they have seen [Tylee Ryan] since September 8, 2019,” court documents read.
January 25, 2020
A court order is served to Lori to produce her children to the Rexburg Police Department or the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare by Jan. 30, 2020. Lori fails to produce Tylee and J.J.
February 20, 2020
Lori is arrested at the couple’s townhouse in Kauai, Hawaii and charged with two felony counts of desertion of a child, as well as misdemeanor charges of resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime, and contempt, according to a news release from the Madison County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
March 5, 2020
Lori is extradited to Rexburg, and her bail is set at $1 million. At the time, Chad remains free, and he spends countless hours talking to Lori while she is behind bars.
Investigators get a break in the case after the FBI pulls cell phone data and find that one day after visiting Yellowstone, Cox’s cell phone showed that he was at Lori’s home from 2:42 to 3:37 a.m. At 9:21 a.m., his cell phone pinged at Chad’s backyard, showing Cox stayed there for more than an hour. On Sept. 23, 2019, Cox’s phone showed he was at Chad’s house again from 9:55 to 10:12 a.m., reported East Idaho News.
June 9, 2020
Investigators search Chad’s property and find two sets of remains, which are later identified as Tylee and J.J. Police take Chad into custody and charge him with concealing, destroying, or altering evidence, and he is held on a $1 million bond. He pleads not guilty to all charges.
June 30, 2020
With the desertion charges dropped, Lori appears in court to face two charges of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration, or concealment of evidence. Three additional misdemeanor charges — resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, and contempt of court — were also filed. She pleads not guilty.
Chad is charged with two additional felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration, or concealment of evidence, according to East Idaho News.
July 17, 2020
Lori’s trial for the three misdemeanors is set for January 2021.
August 21, 2020
Chad pleads not guilty to the four felony charges against him, reported East Idaho News. His trial is set for January 2021.
September 10, 2020
Lori pleads not guilty to the two felony charges, and her trial is set for April 2021.
No further investigation has been made into Cox’s death, and police are actively investigating the circumstances around Charles’ death and whether Lori played any role.
To lean more, watch “Injustice with Nancy Grace” on Thursday, October 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.