The brother of Lori Vallow, the Idaho woman under investigation for the disappearance of her two children and the suspected murder of her husband’s former wife, died of natural causes, a medical examiner said Friday.
Alex Cox died in December from a pulmonary embolism, which is a sudden blockage of an artery in a lung due to a blood clot, the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office in Arizona determined.
The 51-year-old’s sudden death raised suspicions following the disappearance of his sister’s children, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, who haven’t been seen since September.
Cox is believed to have been one of the last people to have seen the children. Photos released by the FBI show him visiting Yellowstone National Park with Vallow and her two kids on Sept. 8.
The following month, Vallow rented a storage unit and a man appearing to be Cox was seen on surveillance footage helping her move items into and out of the unit. A later search recovered some of the children’s belongings from the unit, East Idaho News reported in February.
Police investigated Cox in July after he confessed to fatally shooting Vallow’s estranged fourth husband, Charles Vallow, in what he said was an act of self-defense. No charges were filed in that death, but the investigation deepened public speculation of Cox’s involvement with his sister’s affairs.
Cox’s family said the medical examiner’s conclusion confirmed what they had known all along.
“With a degree of vindication, the family hopes that the confirmation of this truth will help all to step back, take a breath, and allow the truth to unfold throughout the process,” the family said in a statement from their lawyer.
Vallow is currently being held in an Idaho prison on a $1 million bond for felony child abandonment. Investigators have accused Vallow and her current husband, the religious “Doomsday” author Chad Daybell, of not cooperating with their investigation.
In addition to the child abandonment charges, Vallow and Daybell are under investigation for conspiracy, attempted murder and murder for the death of Daybell’s former wife, Tammy Daybell, who unexpectedly died in October, prosecutors said last month.
Tammy Daybell, 49, mysteriously died in her sleep at her Idaho home just a couple of weeks before her husband married Vallow in Hawaii. Tammy Daybell’s body was exhumed in December for testing. Any results have not been publicly released.
Daybell has not been charged with a crime.
In addition to both having experienced perplexing deaths involving family members, Vallow and Daybell share a fixation with the afterlife.
Chad Daybell has written several books on the end of the world and the Christian belief in Christ’s return to Earth. Vallow’s family has described her as being fascinated with the afterlife to the point where she may have become a danger to herself.
Her previous husband, Charles Vallow, had said in divorce papers that she needed psychiatric help. He said she was obsessed with near-death experiences and believed she had lived numerous lives on other planets before her current life. He sought an order of protection as well as a mental health evaluation of his wife before his death, The Associated Press reported.