REXBURG, Idaho (AP) — The parents named as persons of interest in their children’s disappearance in Idaho issued a statement Monday through an attorney, saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing “allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor.”
Joshua Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17, have not been seen since September, police say. The search for the children began in November when police tried to do a welfare check on the 7-year-old boy after a relative called because they hadn’t talked to him since September. The boy was adopted and has special needs.
Rexburg police say the parents, Chad and Lori Daybell, never reported the kids missing, have repeatedly lied about where their children are — initially saying the boy was in Arizona — and aren’t cooperating with the investigation.
The couple had disappeared from their Rexburg home when police returned with additional questions and search warrants.
Police say it appeared the Daybells abruptly left the house and city. They said they don’t believe the couple had the children with them. How the couple left the city is unclear.
Lori, 46, is the second wife of Chad Daybell, 51. Though Rexburg police haven’t disclosed the exact nature of the connection, authorities note the new marriage happened shortly after Chad Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell, was found dead at home in October.
Initially thought to be a natural death, Tammy Daybell’s remains have since been exhumed in Utah, where she was buried. An autopsy has been conducted, but results haven’t been released. Rexburg police on Friday said the death could be related to the disappearance of the children, but didn’t elaborate.
Lori Daybell’s former spouse also died earlier this year. Charles Vallow was killed in July in Arizona in a confrontation with her brother, Alex Cox. Cox said he shot Vallow in self-defense. Cox died on Dec. 12. Police have not released details.
Chad Daybell, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a self-published author who writes about near-death experiences and doomsday events.
Chad and Lori Daybell participated in podcasts for a group called “Preparing a People,” which the group said involves “the second coming of Jesus Christ.” The group has since removed those podcasts.
Police say Lori Daybell has blond hair and blue eyes, is 5-foot-6 and weighs 125 pounds. Chad Daybell is described as 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, and having brown hair and blue eyes.