The latest timeline of events in the Vallow Daybell murder cases
Editor’s note: This timeline was originally published Jan. 17, 2020. It has been updated with the latest events as of Sept. 14, 2022.
REXBURG — In December 2019, the world learned that two children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, and his sister, Tylee Ryan, were missing.
Since then, a complicated story spanning multiple states and law enforcement agencies has unfolded. Here is a timeline of events in the case.
- Chad and Tammy Daybell married on March 9, 1990, in Manti, Utah, according to her obituary. The couple lived in Springville, Utah, where they founded Spring Creek Book Company, through which Chad published many of his books. The couple had five children before moving to their home in Salem, Idaho, in 2015. Tammy worked as a school librarian.
- In 2006, marriage records show Lori Ryan married her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. Lori entered the marriage with her son, Colby, and Tylee, the daughter with her third husband, Joseph Ryan Jr. Family members say in 2014, Charles and Lori adopted Joshua “JJ” Vallow. He is the biological grandson of Charles’ sister Kay Woodcock, who is married to Larry Woodcock.
- Social media posts indicate that sometime in 2014, the Vallows moved to the island of Kauai in Hawaii. The couple operated a small business on the island, as indicated by business records. The family then moved back to the mainland between 2016 and 2017.
- While the Vallow family lived in Arizona, Tylee’s father, Joseph Ryan, died on April 3, 2018. According to a copy of the medical examiner’s report, the cause of death was ruled a heart attack. He was cremated and little other information is available about his death.
- Almost one year before the public announcement of the cases, Chad and Lori made their first appearance together on the Preparing a People podcast “Time to Warrior Up.” The two appeared with others on several of the podcasts – many focused on the end of the world. Preparing a People has since removed the podcast and publicly dissociated itself from the couple.
- A felony indictment indicates that on Oct. 26, 2018, Lori and Chad began discussing their religious beliefs to justify killing Tammy, JJ and Tylee. The couple is believed to have met around this time at a religious conference in St. George, Utah
- Arizona police body camera footage shows Charles pleading for Lori to receive mental health help at Community Bridges on Jan. 31. Officers determined she had a normal state of mind and she was medically cleared by Community Bridges.
- Charles files for divorce from Lori in February. He claims she views herself as a god preparing for the second coming of Christ, according to court documents. Charles claims his wife would kill him if he got in her way to perform her mission. Divorce proceedings are later stopped after Charles says he wants to make the marriage work.
- The family says Lori disappears to Hawaii in February for nearly two months and leaves the children with others.
- Around June, Lori’s niece, Melani Boudreaux, and her husband, Brandon Boudreaux, decide to get a divorce,as first reported by Fox13 Salt Lake City. Brandon claims Melani affiliated herself with similar beliefs as her aunt and joined “a cult.”
- On July 11, Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, shoots and kills Charles. Alex says the shooting was in self-defense. By the end of August, Lori, Tylee, JJ, Alex and Melani move to Rexburg, Idaho.
- Just days after Charles is killed, Chad sends multiple texts to Lori in what investigators call a “romance novel.” Chad, who is still married to Tammy, describes in detail a sexual relationship between James and Elena, the names he reportedly uses to substitute for himself and Lori.
- On Sept. 8, Tylee, JJ, Lori and Alex visit Yellowstone National Park. Officials say this is the last time anyone saw Tylee alive. The FBI later asks for help from anyone who may have photos of the family taken that day in the park.
- Chad signs an application with Tammy on Sept. 8 to increase her life insurance to the maximum amount allowed on the policy.
- On Sept. 9, phone records place Alex on Chad’s property in the general area where investigators would eventually find Tylee’s remains. That same day, Chad allegedly texts Tammy saying he shot a raccoon and buried it in their pet cemetery.
- Lori enrolls JJ at Kennedy Elementary School in Rexburg on Sept. 3, principal Josh Wilson says. Less than three weeks later, JJ attends class for the last time and his mother unenrolls him, saying he would be homeschooled. Tylee was never enrolled in any school in Idaho even though Lori claimed her daughter was attending BYU-Idaho.
- On Oct. 1, Lori rents a 10×10 storage unit from Self Storage Plus in Rexburg. Surveillance video at the facility, exclusively obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, shows Lori and a man visiting the unit nine times in October and once in November. Often the man, who appears to be Alex, comes alone. Another visit shows Alex and a man who appears to be Chad. During one visit, Chad and Lori visit the storage facility together.
- On Oct. 2, Brandon returns from the gym to his Arizona home when he says he was shot at with the bullet missing his head by inches. Arizona Central reports the shooter was driving a Jeep registered to then-dead Charles Vallow. That same day, Lori purchases a wedding ring on Amazon, later seen on her finger at her beach wedding with Chad.
- On Oct. 9, Tammy calls 911 and says a masked man shot at her in her driveway with a paintball gun. She posts about the experience on Facebook, saying she has no idea who the person was or why they would shoot at her. Court documents later indicate Alex attempted to shoot and kill Tammy that day.
- Ten days later, Chad calls 911 and says Tammy died in her sleep at their Salem home. Detectives visit the home and investigators originally rule the death as natural. The coroner does not perform an autopsy. Tammy is buried at the Evergreen Cemetary in Springville on Oct. 22.. The family holds a memorial service in Rexburg the following day.
- Two weeks after Tammy’s death, Chad and Lori are married in Hawaii on Nov. 5. They then return to Rexburg. Over the coming weeks, police say Chad told witnesses that Lori had no minor children. Police also say Lori told people Tylee died years earlier.
- On Nov. 26, the Rexburg Police Department conducts a welfare check for JJ at the request of his grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock. They had not spoken with the boy in months. JJ is not at the townhome on Pioneer Road and Lori tells police her son was with her friend, Melanie Gibb, in Arizona. Police soon determine that JJ was not with Melanie.
- The next morning, Nov. 27, the Rexburg Police Department serves a search warrant. When officers arrive, Chad and Lori are gone.
- Court documents indicate that on Dec. 1, Chad and Lori catch an American Airlines flight to Lihue, Hawaii. The children are not with their parents.
- On Dec. 6, Melanie Gibb contacts the Rexburg Police Department to say that Chad and Lori called her on Nov. 26 and asked her to lie about the location of JJ.
- As deputies investigate, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office determines Tammy Daybell’s death is “suspicious.” Tammy’s body is exhumed on Dec. 11 and an autopsy is performed in Utah. The results of the autopsy are not released.
- On Dec. 12, Alex suddenly dies in Gilbert, Arizona at age 51. In a police interview months after his death, Alex’s wife Zulema Patenas spoke with officers. She said that a few days before Alex died, he told her that if anything happened to him, there was money in a bag for her hidden in a closet.
- On Dec. 20, the Rexburg Police Department announces JJ and Tylee are missing. Police say their disappearance is possibly linked to the suspicious death of Tammy. The following day, police call Chad and Lori “persons of interest.”
- On Dec. 23, the attorney representing the Daybells, Sean Bartholick, releases a statement calling the parents loving and devoted. He says the allegations will be addressed once they move beyond “rumor and speculation.”
- On Dec. 30, the Rexburg Police Department issues a news release saying they have information indicating Lori knows either the location of the children or what has happened to them. They call the parents’ lack of cooperation “astonishing” as the couple refuses to cooperate.
- Local investigators and the FBI serve a search warrant on Chad’s home in Salem on Jan. 3. Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries says investigators recovered 43 items, including computers, cell phones, journals, documents and medications. These are sent to an FBI lab for further analysis.
- On Jan. 7, Larry and Kay Woodcock travel to Rexburg from their home in Lake Charles, Louisiana and announce a $20,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the kids.
- Chad Daybell’s brother, Matt Daybell, pleads for him to cooperate with the investigation on Jan. 10. Matt says his immediate family had little association with Chad due to concerns about his religious claims and books.
- On Jan. 25, the Kauai Police Department serves Lori with a notice stating she must produce JJ and Tylee to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare or the Rexburg Police Department within five days.
- EastIdahoNews.com reporter Nate Eaton confronts Chad and Lori in Hawaii on Jan. 26 after police stop them at the Kauai Beach Resort. Law enforcement seizes the couple’s rental car and search their rental townhome in Princeville, Hawaii. The parents refuse to say where the children are.
- On Jan. 30, Lori misses the 5 p.m. deadline to produce JJ and Tylee. Kay holds a news conference expressing her disappointment.
- On Feb. 3, EastIdahoNews.com visits the storage unit where Lori abandoned several of the kids’ items. Bikes, a scooter, winter clothing, a photo album with pictures of JJ and Tylee, sports equipment, a backpack with JJ’s initials and a jersey with Colby Ryan’s name on it are left in the unit. There are also blankets showing photos of the children – one focused on JJ with the other showing photos of Tylee.
- On Feb. 12, Kay tells EastIdahoNews.com that in February 2019, Charles removed Lori from a $1 million life insurance policy. Kay was named the sole beneficiary.
- On Feb. 20, police in Kauai arrest Lori on a $5 million warrant out of Madison County. She is charged with two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children. She is also charged with arrests and seizures – resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, and contempt of court – willful disobedience of court process or order.
- On Feb. 26, Lori waives her extradition to Idaho after six days behind bars in Hawaii. The waiver comes after multiple attempts to reduce bail fail.
- Idaho authorities extradite Lori from Hawaii to Rexburg on March 5. They land in an airplane at the Rexburg airport and Nate Eaton attempts to speak with her before deputies drive her to the Madison County Jail. She refuses to speak.
- Lori makes her initial court appearance in Rexburg on March 6. Hundreds wait in line hoping to catch a glimpse of the hearing where Magistrate Judge Faren Eddins reduces her bail to $1 million. She remains in jail unable to post bond.
- On April 9, EastIdahoNews.com obtains a letter from the Idaho Attorney General stating Chad and Lori are under investigation for conspiracy, attempted murder and/or murder by the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.
- The Maricopa County Medical Examiner releases Alex’s autopsy on May 8. It says he died of natural causes – specifically blood clots in the lungs.
- Melanie Gibb breaks her silence to EastIdahoNews.com and reveals explosive new details about her relationship with Chad and Lori and their religious beliefs.
- Around 7 a.m. on June 9, the Rexburg Police Department, FBI and Fremont County Sheriff’s Office serve a search warrant at Chad’s home. Within hours, investigators uncover human remains buried on the property later identified as those of JJ and Tylee.
- Around 11:30 a.m. on June 9, Chad is taken into custody about a mile from his home. He’s booked into the Fremont County Jail on two felony charges of concealment, distribution or alteration of evidence.
- Chad makes his first court appearance on June 10 via video from the jail. Eddins sets bail at $1 million.
- Memorials are set up along the fence of the property where the children were found. Several candlelight vigils are held in their honor.
- On June 29, prosecutors file charges against Lori including two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.
- On July 2, prosecutors dismiss two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of children against Lori. On July 15, she pleads not guilty to misdemeanor resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court.
- On Aug. 3 and 4, Chad’s preliminary hearing is held in Fremont County. Friends, investigators and witnesses testify and Eddins concludes the prosecution has enough probable cause to advance the case to the District Court.
- Lori waives her preliminary hearing scheduled on Aug. 10 and 11 in Fremont County. The case automatically advances to District Court.
- Chad appears for his District Court arraignment on Aug. 21 before District Judge Steven Boyce. He pleads not guilty to the felony charges.
- On Aug. 27, Chad’s attorney John Prior asks Boyce to dismiss the entire case against his client.
- Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood files a motion on Sept. 1 asking to combine the cases for Chad and Lori. He says having the cases together will be more efficient since he plans to present the same evidence and witnesses.
- On Sept. 10, Lori is arraigned in District Court where she pleads not guilty to the two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.
- On Oct. 19, the anniversary of Tammy Daybell’s death, her parents and siblings announce the creation of the Tammy Douglas Daybell Foundation “to honor her legacy of service and love of literacy.”
- On Nov. 5, EastIdahoNews.com obtains audio of Lori saying she “was going to murder” her third husband, Joe Ryan, while speaking at a meeting in Oct. 2018. She says she became closer to God and ultimately did not need to act against Joe.
- In January, an audio recording between prosecutor Wood and Summer Shiflet, Lori’s sister, is released. Wood tells Summer he plans to file conspiracy to commit murder charges against the Daybells.
- On Feb. 4, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office announces Tammy’s autopsy is complete but details are not released. That same day, newly elected Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Blake requests Tammy’s death investigation case be sent back to her office from the Idaho Attorney General. The AG transfers the case.
- On March 22, Wood adds veteran Missouri homicide attorney Rachel Smithto assist his team in the case.
- On May 24, a grand jury indicts Chad and Lori on several new felony charges, including first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Prosecutors announce the charges during a May 25 news conference, releasing the indictment containing additional information surrounding the homicides of Tylee, JJ and Tammy.
- On June 8, Lori is committed to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. A psychologist deems her not fit for trial and a judge agrees she can not assist in her defense.
- Chad pleads not guilty to all counts in the indictment on June 9. His children sit behind him in the courtroom.
- On June 24, a grand jury in Arizona indicts Lori for conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. Prosecutors decline to press charges against Chad saying there is “no reasonable likelihood of conviction.”
- On July 29, prosecutors drop the destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence charges against Chad and Lori.
- Prosecutors announce on Aug. 5 they will seek the death penalty against Chad saying “the nature and magnitude of these crimes warrant the possibility of the highest possible punishment.”
- In a September interview with “48 Hours,” Chad’s children say their father was framed and their mother died of asphyxiation.
- Following a change of venue hearing on Oct. 5, Boyce rules the Daybell trial will be moved from Fremont County to Ada County. The Idaho Supreme Court approves the move to Idaho’s most populous county.
- On Oct. 7, Chandler, Arizona police release their entire case file for the investigation into Charles’ homicide. Included are gigabytes of never before seen video interviews, audio recordings, text messages and police reports.
- On Dec. 28, Boyce orders that Mark Means, Lori’s attorney, can no longer represent her. Boyce cites the conflict of interest in Means representing both Chad and Lori as well as concerns over his legal competency and effectiveness.
- In March, Arizona prosecutors announce they will not file conspiracy to commit murder charges against Chad in the attempted shooting case of Brandon Boudreaux. They cite “no reasonable likelihood of conviction” as the reason. Prosecutors do not announce if Lori will face charges
- Boyce denies a request from John Prior on March 21 to sever Chad’s case from Lori’s.
- On April 11, Boyce issues a written order saying Lori is now competent for trial and fit to proceed. She is ordered to be released from a Department of Health and Welfare facility and an arraignment date is set.
- Lori is arraigned on April 19. She remains silent and her attorney Jim Archibald asks Boyce to enter a not guilty plea on her behalf.
- On April 28, Boyce denies a request from John Prior to have the indictment against Chad dropped. The judge also denies a request from prosecutors to have a jury transported from Ada County to Fremont County for the trial and re-affirms proceedings will happen in Ada County.
- On May 2, prosecutors announce they will pursue the death penalty against Lori and ask Boyce to keep her trial together with Chad’s. Boyce issues a response on May 26 reaffirming the trials will be held together in January 2023.
- In August, Lori appears in court smiling and wearing a band on her ring finger. She does not answer EastIdahoNews.com questions after the hearing about whether she misses her kids and if she still loves Chad.
- Two weeks after the hearing, Lori’s attorneys file a motion asking that cameras be banned from the courtroom. Prosecutors support the motion as EastIdahoNews.com joins with over two dozen other media outlets in opposition. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 15 on the matter.
- Colby Ryan, Lori’s son, is arrested on Sept. 3 in Maricopa County, Arizona on two charges of sexual assault. Less than a week later, the charges are dropped without prejucide, meaning the prosecutor can re-file at a later date.