A former East Valley woman has left behind a trail of bodies as authorities attempt to trace the whereabouts of her and her two children amid speculation about her connection to a doomsday cult.
The FBI is on the lookout for 46-year-old Lori Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, after the couple abruptly fled their Idaho home last month. Local authorities had been checking on the welfare of Vallow’s two children since no one had seen or spoken to the juveniles for months.
Now all four family members are missing and have left their relatives confused as to where they may have gone. Some have speculated Vallow’s joined a mysterious cult, while others are hopeful no foul play has taken place.
Three people connected to Vallow and Daybell have all died within the last few months. One was shot to death at a residence in Chandler. A death in Gilbert is still under investigation.
Charles Vallow, the missing mother’s ex-husband, was killed during a domestic dispute on July 11 in the 5500 block of South Four Peaks Place.
According to Chandler Police, Vallow came to Chandler to pick up his son from Lori. Once he arrived, an argument ensued and Lori’s brother, Alexander Cox, intervened by shooting Vallow dead.
Chandler Police determined in July, Cox acted in self-defense and chose not to arrest him.
Cox died on Dec. 12 in Gilbert after police found him unresponsive at his home. His cause of death won’t be determined until an autopsy is completed, according to the Gilbert Police Department.
Cox died the day after authorities in Idaho opened an investigation into the death of Daybell’s former wife.
On Dec. 11, the body of Tammy Daybell, 49, was exhumed for an autopsy. Investigators initially suspected Daybell died of natural causes on Oct. 19 at her home in Fremont County, Idaho.
Within a couple weeks of Tammy’s death, authorities claimed her husband married Lori Vallow – sparking the suspicions of local investigators.
The couple’s relatives started to become concerned around this time after they lost contact with Vallow’s two children – 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua Vallow.
The juveniles were last seen in Idaho on Sept. 23. Investigators asked Vallow about her children on Nov. 26 and she indicated they were visiting relatives in Arizona.
Authorities returned to Vallow’s home the following day for further questioning and the residence was already vacant.
Police have not charged Daybell or Vallow with any crimes, nor have they publicly indicated they’re under investigation for having any involvement in the deaths of their former spouses.
Sean Bartholick, an attorney representing Daybell and Vallow, released a statement this week calling the couple “devoted” parents and denied they were guilty of wrongdoing.
“We look forward to addressing the allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor,” the attorney’s statement read.
The statement has done little to qualm speculations the family’s disappearance may be tied to their association with a religious organization in Idaho.
Relatives have gone on social media to allege the couple was involved in what they described as a doomsday cult. One family member told a Utah television station this group was a radical offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Vallow and Daybell spoke on several podcasts produced by Preparing a People, a religious sect that prepares followers for “the second coming of Jesus Christ.”
In response to the couple’s disappearance, the religious group removed all its media content featuring Daybell and Vallow.
“Our hearts go out to all Chad and Lori’s family and friends who are now affected by this ongoing confusing tragedy,” Preparing a People wrote on its website.
“We pray for the truth of whatever happened to be quickly manifest and we pray for the safe return of Lori’s two beautiful children.”
Colby Ryan, a sibling to the missing children, posted a video this week asking the public to focus its attention on his brother and sister.
“This is really, really tough for us,” Ryan said. “Every week or two weeks has been something new that just sinks your heart into your stomach.”
Anyone with information about the missing family is encouraged to contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.