Investigators searching for missing Idaho siblings seized computers and cell phones from stepfather's home

Law enforcement officers have been searching for siblings Joshua "JJ" Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17, since November, after learning that they had not been seen or heard from since September. CNN affiliate KSTU reports.

Posted: Jan 7, 2020 9:40 AM
Updated: Jan 7, 2020 9:40 AM

Investigators searching for two missing Idaho siblings seized computers and cell phones from a home owned by the children's stepfather, the lead investigator told CNN.

Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries told CNN the items taken from the home of Chad Daybell during the execution of a search warrant on Friday also included personal journals, medication and what Humphries described as "forensic evidence." The items are being examined by experts.

The sheriff says it's too soon to tell whether the evidence will lead the investigation in any new directions.

"A lot of work now has to be done," he said.

Law enforcement officers have been searching for Joshua "JJ" Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17, since November, after learning that they had not been seen or heard from since September.

Daybell is married to the children's mother, Lori Vallow. While neither Daybell nor Vallow has been charged in the children's disappearance, they have not cooperated with the investigation, Rexburg Police said.

Sean Bartholick, an attorney for the couple, released a statement to East Idaho News on December 23 saying that although he is in contact with Vallow and Daybell, he does not have information about the children. CNN has made multiple attempts to reach Bartholick but has not received a response.

The father of one child requested sole custody

Police conducted a welfare check for Joshua -- Vallow's adopted son with her previous husband -- on November 26 after relatives raised concern about not hearing from him. During the welfare check, both Daybell and Vallow told investigators that the boy was staying with a family friend in Arizona. When police returned the next day to execute a search warrant, Daybell and Vallow had fled the home, according to authorities.

Investigators later determined that they did not take Joshua with them when they fled and that he was not staying at the friend's house.

Divorce documents shed some light on the months before the children went missing.

According to a petition for dissolution of marriage filed in February, Charles Vallow, Joshua's father, had requested sole custody of the child and expressed concern about Lori Vallow's mental state. Charles Vallow was shot and killed five months later during a fight with Lori Vallow's brother Alex Cox, a news release from Chandler, Arizona, police said. Cox was not charged in the case and died last month, according to CNN affiliate KIFI/KIDK. The cause of death has not been released.

"Father states that mother's recent decision-making has caused emotional harm to JJ who has special needs and is unable to understand the circumstances or situation happening," the petition reads.

"Mother has recently become infatuated and at times obsessive about near death experiences and spiritual visions. Mother has told Father that she is sealed (eternally married) to the ancient Book of Mormon prophet Moroni and that she lived numerous lives on numerous planet prior to this current life," the document says. "Mother also informed Father that she is a translated being who cannot taste death sent by God to lead the 144,000 into the Millennium. ... On January 29, 2019 during a phone conversation between the parties and after their physical separation, Mother informed Father that she was a God assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000."

Charles Vallow had also sought an order of protection against Lori Vallow, the petition said.

In a statement to CNN, Steven M. Ellsworth and F. Taylor Larson, attorneys who handled the divorce case, told CNN that Charles Vallow had a protective order against Lori Vallow because he had a "genuine fear for his life ... due to Lori's mental state and her delusions."

"During our time representing him, it was clear that Charles loved his children including Tylee and Joshua (JJ) very much. His main concern throughout the case was ensuring JJ was safe, cared for, and that JJ's routine was consistent due to his special needs," the statement said. "We hope that the focus of this tragedy is placed on locating the whereabouts and well-being of Tylee and JJ."

Vallow and Daybell wed weeks after Daybell's wife Tammy was found dead in her Fremont County home on October 19. Tammy Daybell's death was initially attributed to natural causes, but authorities exhumed her remains on December 11 and now think her death was suspicious.

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