Chad Daybell arrested, human remains found: What we know about twisting case of Lori Vallow’s missing children

The new husband of the mother of two Idaho kids who have been missing since September was arrested Tuesday after authorities found what they believed to be human remains at his house.

Chad Daybell was arrested on suspicion of concealing or destroying evidence after police in Idaho executed a search warrant at his home in Fremont County.

Daybell is the new husband of Lori Vallow who was arrested in February in Hawaii after she failed to meet a court-ordered deadline to bring her children to authorities in Rexburg, Idaho. Vallow has pleaded not guilty to child abandonment and other charges and remains in custody.

The twisting case spans multiple states, suspicious death investigations and allegations of cult-like religious beliefs. Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan haven’t been seen since September, and Daybell and Vallow, who both have allegedly lied to authorities in the course of the investigation, have former spouses who have died in recent months.

Here’s what we know about the case:

Who is Chad Daybell?

Daybell’s arrest is just the latest turn in the winding case that became public in December when the Rexburg Police Department said JJ and Tylee had been missing for months, could be in danger and Daybell and his new wife, Lori Vallow, were persons of interest who had lied to investigators and could not be located.

According to court documents, Daybell and Vallow had fled to Hawaii, where they had married in a beachfront ceremony weeks before. 

However, the ceremony, with JJ and Tylee no where to be seen, came weeks after Daybell’s wife of 30 years died under what police later said were suspicious circumstances.

A father of five of his own children, Daybell is a self-published author of many apocalyptic, doomsday books, and friends and family say he and Vallow adhere to divergent religious beliefs.

In an autobiography, Daybell described near-death experiences, deep connection with a spiritual world and visions of “the decline and downfall of the United States” and an “upcoming foreign invasion of America.” 

“I don’t know when an earthquake will come, but I have seen in vision the damage it will cause. I hope we still have a few years before it strikes, but it would be best to be prepared if it comes sooner,” Daybell wrote.

What happened Tuesday and whose remains did police find?

In a statement, Rexburg’s assistant chief of police Gary Hagen said his department, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI served a search warrant early Tuesday as Daybell’s address.

“During the search of the property, investigators found what appears to be unidentified human remains,” Hagen said.

Police said the search warrant was sealed but they continued to search Daybell’s home. Daybell is to appear in court Wednesday.

In a statement to East Idaho News, JJ’s biological grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, said: “This is obviously a very difficult time for our family, and we ask that you respect our privacy as we wait further news with heavy hearts.”

Where is Lori Vallow?

Most recently in Vallow criminal case, an Idaho judge denied her request for reduced bail. Vallow, who says she prefers to be called Lori Daybell, faces charges of felony child desertion, resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court.

The Idaho attorney general agreed to investigate her and Daybell in April.

Vallow was arrested Feb. 20 in Hawaii and later extradited to Idaho.

Where are JJ and Tylee?

Both JJ and Tylee were last seen in September, but it wasn’t until late December that the public was alerted that they were missing. JJ’s biological grandmother, Kay Woodcock, told police that she hadn’t heard from the child in months.

Police say JJ, whose 8th birthday was in May, was last seen Sept. 23 when his mother told his Rexburg school he’d no longer be attending. Tylee, 17, was last seen Sept. 8 in Yellowstone National Park with her mother, brother and late uncle.

JJ was adopted by Lori Vallow and her late ex-husband, Charles Vallow, in 2014. The boy was born to Woodcock’s son, and Kay, who is Charles Vallow’s sister, initially cared for him with her husband, Larry.

JJ was diagnosed with autism, and the Woodcocks said they were busy running a business, so the Vallows offered to adopt the child. Old videos Woodcock shared on social media show the boy singing into a microphone on a tour bus and gleefully playing with toys.

Tylee welcomed the role of big sister when Joshua was adopted.

“Tylee kind of turned into like a second mom in a sense to JJ, started taking care of him,” Colby Ryan, Lori Vallow’s eldest son, previously told KSAZ-TV. 

A string of suspicious deaths tied to Vallow and Daybell

When Daybell’s wife, Tammy, was found dead in October, police initially believed it was due to natural causes as Daybell said she died in her sleep. But police exhumed her remains in December and said the circumstances “may be suspicious.” 

In July, Charles Vallow, Lori’s ex-husband and adoptive father of JJ, arrived in Arizona where she and her children had been living.

Police in Chandler said Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, called 911 and said he shot Charles Vallow after an argument between Charles and Lori broke out.

Cox claimed self-defense, but on an NBC “Dateline” special, detectives said details in Cox’s and Lori Vallow’s stories did not add up and they exhibited strange behavior not typical of family members whose relative had just died.

Kay Woodcock told “Dateline” her brother was not a violent man, but Cox said Charles Vallow struck him with a baseball bat.

Chandler police had an open homicide investigation into the incident, but no arrests were made.

In December, Cox was found unresponsive in Arizona. An autopsy report released in May said that Cox died from a pulmonary blood clot. Police in Gilbert said at the time detectives investigating his death would review the autopsy report and that the case was still active.

What are the ‘doomsday’ beliefs that Vallow and Daybell allegedly have?

In divorce filings, Charles Vallow said Lori Vallow believed she was “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020.”

But by all accounts, Lori and Charles Vallow had a typical family before. “They were just this bustling, busy family,” Woodcock told “Dateline.” Woodcock said her brother and sister-in-law had their lives “built around” the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The family lived in the Phoenix area for years, at one point relocating to Hawaii for two years. But around 2019, things changed, and Vallow began delving deeper into divergent, “prepper” beliefs, friends and family told “Dateline.”

In Charles Vallow’s divorce filings, he said that Lori Vallow said she would kill him if he got in her way and that she had “an angel there to help her dispose of the body.” Shortly after her alleged threats, Charles took out an order of protection against Lori Vallow, according to court documents. 

Charles claimed that Lori Vallow had “become infatuated and, at times, obsessive about near-death experiences and spiritual visions.”

According to East Idaho News, Vallow and Chad Daybell first appeared on a podcast together almost a year before the children were announced missing.

Contribuing: Joel Shannon, Chelsea Curtis, Jordan Culver and The Associated Press

Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller