IDAHO FALLS — One of Charles Vallow’s sons says he has not had time to grieve. He has spoken little publicly about what’s happening with his family – partially because he’s scared, but mainly because he doesn’t want the spotlight on himself.
In fact, he asked EastIdahoNews.com not to use his real name, so we’ll call him Steve in this story.
Steve’s father, Charles, was shot and killed in Chandler, Arizona, on July 11. Vallow’s wife, Lori, did not tell Steve or his brother that their dad was dead until 36 hours later and the shooter was Lori’s brother, Alex Cox.
“I was initially in disbelief because I had just talked to my dad,” Steve recalls. “I was texting him and I remember calling him a couple times the morning he had gotten shot, and he didn’t respond. It was really weird. He usually returns calls and texts relatively fast, so something was off.”
Lori informed Steve and his brother that Charles was dead by texting them a message. A text chain provided to EastIdahoNews.com shows the boys repeatedly asked Lori for information surrounding the death, but she didn’t answer their questions and was vague in her responses.
Finally, on July 20, Steve texted Lori, “If you won’t answer those questions, can we please have his watches and other stuff he always talked about and had around?”
Lori responded within an hour and told Steve she would send some items to his house. That was the last communication he has had with his stepmother.
“My dad had a collection of watches, very fancy watches. He wore nice watches for years and years so I thought she was going to send me some of them,” Steve says. “The package arrived and inside were two cheap Timex watches you’d find at CVS. Anything that was worth money, we didn’t get. I’m assuming she sold everything else.”
Steve says Lori refused to tell them where Charles’s body was or if a funeral was planned. Steve and his brother eventually figured out the mortuary where their dad was taken and they walked inside to speak with the funeral director.
“He was very shaky and nervous. We asked him for information and he said something like, ‘I can’t tell you that. It was requested that I tell you nothing,'” Steve says.
A memorial service was arranged, and Lori never showed up. Neither did Joshua “JJ” Vallow, Charles and Lori’s 7-year-old son who has been missing since September. Kay and Larry Woodcock, JJ’s grandparents, begged Lori to allow the boy to attend, but she ignored their requests. The last time Steve saw JJ was last April.
“I loved to hang out and play with him and watch movies and run around. He would call me all the time – something like 15 to 20 times a day – and then it dropped to two to three times a day, and then it just stopped,” Steve says. “I figured maybe he’s going to school or something like that. I never thought anything bad was going to happen to him or Tylee.”
Steve was never close with Lori, even though he spent summers and weekends with her and his dad. He was 10 years old when Lori and Charles got married and describes his relationship with his stepmom as “acquaintances.” Her extended family members were always around, which makes Steve wonder why he hasn’t heard from any of them since Tylee and JJ vanished.
“Nobody has attempted to reach out. It’s weird. Her family was always over, and not a single one of them has said a word except Colby (Lori’s oldest son),” Steve says.
When Lori and Chad were found in Hawaii last month, Steve wasn’t surprised. Lori and Charles lived on Kauai several years ago and Steve spent time with them there. He says he was furious watching video of Lori ignoring questions from EastIdahoNews.com concerning the whereabouts of her children.
“She can put on a smile and she’ll make you believe that everything is OK. I’m surprised that she can pretend that things are just fine and dandy, but I thought it was very incredibly insulting,” Steve says. “It was ridiculous that she’s pretending nothing is happening and she’s untouchable. Honestly – it really pissed me off.”
Lori was arrested in Kauai on Thursday and charged with two felony counts of child abandonment, resisting and/or obstructing an officer, solicitation and contempt. She is being held on $5 million bail.
When Steve learned she was in custody, he says it was the “first good news (he has) heard in months and months.” He believes additional charges will eventually be filed against her and Chad Daybell, her new husband.
He is confident Lori and her brother, Alex Cox, lied about the circumstances surrounding his father’s death. They told police Cox shot Charles in self-defense after Charles attacked him with a baseball bat.
“I don’t believe any of it. My dad was never verbally aggressive, never raised his voice, never physically threatened anyone or anything like that,” Steve says. “He was very good at baseball. He played in college, so if he was going to defend himself, he wouldn’t just tap an aluminum bat on someone’s head on self-defense. The entire story just doesn’t make any sense.”
As if things couldn’t get more bizarre, Steve says Alex Cox’s sudden death in December was “mind-blowing.”
“I was much more worried when Alex was alive about my safety. But then we didn’t know if we should feel more or less safe. I don’t know what happened to him, but I have a lot of ideas and if they’re possibly willing to take out their own, I have to assume the worst,” he says.
Steve says whenever he thinks about his father, he becomes sad and then upset. If he focuses on it too long, he ends up in a bad place and he isn’t quite sure how to process everything going on.
He realizes he may never know the whole story surrounding his dad’s death, but he does want answers about Tylee and JJ. He hopes justice is served soon and the children are found.
“The truth will come out. They need to be found and Lori needs to be held accountable,” he says. “I have been worried about my safety and my family’s safety because I don’t know how many followers she and Chad have. This needs to end.”