Authorities have carried out a search at the home of a Christian doomsday writer in southeast Idaho following the mysterious death of his first wife and the now monthslong disappearance of his second wife’s two children.
Federal and local law enforcement agents carried out a search warrant at Chad Daybell’s home in Salem on Friday, searching for clues into not only Tammy Daybell’s sudden death at the home in October but the whereabouts of his two stepchildren: Joshua (JJ) Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17.
“How they’re related we’re not quite sure, but we do believe they are related,” Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries told Salt Lake City station Fox 13.
Both children haven’t been seen or heard from since late September and authorities have said their mother, Lori Vallow, who married Chad Daybell just weeks after Tammy Daybell’s death, is not cooperating with the investigation.
Both Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell have since left the state, said authorities.
A spokesperson for the FBI confirmed to HuffPost that it is offering investigative, forensic and technical assistance in both Idaho and Utah, where Tammy Daybell was buried. Members of the FBI’s Evidence Response Team were also assisting in Friday’s search.
Tammy Daybell’s Oct. 19 death was initially determined to have been from natural causes. An online obituary for her describes her as having “passed away peacefully in her sleep.”
It wasn’t until the children’s disappearance, and Joshua Vallow’s extended family requesting a welfare check, that authorities became suspicious of Tammy Daybell’s death and had her body exhumed on Dec. 13 for further testing. Those test results could take several weeks, the sheriff’s office has said.
Amid this new probe and concern for the two kids, both Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell have been publicly admonished by local law enforcement officials for being uncooperative with their investigation.
“Lori Vallow/Daybell, the adopted mother of Joshua and biological mother of Tylee, has completely refused to assist this investigation,” the Rexburg Police Department, which is handling the case, said in a statement last week. “We know that the children are not with Lori and Chad Daybell and we also have information indicating that Lori knows either the location of the children or what has happened to them. Despite having this knowledge, she has refused to work with law enforcement to help us resolve this matter. It is astonishing that rather than work with law enforcement to help us locate her own children, Lori Vallow has chosen instead to leave the state with her new husband.”
The police department said its primary concern is finding the two children and that it will consider filing charges as supporting evidence becomes available.
An attorney hired by the couple has meanwhile defended them as loving parents.
“Chad Daybell was a loving husband and has the support of his children in this matter,” attorney Sean Bartholick told East Idaho News. “Lori Daybell is a devoted mother and resents assertions to the contrary. We look forward to addressing the allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor.”
A website listed for Daybell advertises a number of books he’s authored on the end of the world and the Christian belief of Christ’s return to Earth. He has also been linked to the Christian-eschatological media company Preparing A People, the mission of which is to help prepare people for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, according to its website.
In light of the criminal investigations, the company said it has removed podcasts and any other media content that featured the couple from its website.
“We also do not share any of Chad Daybell’s or Lori Vallow’s beliefs if they are contrary to Christian principles of honesty, integrity and truth, or if they do not align with the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” it said.