'We continue to hope and pray for the safe return of both of these beautiful children,' says an assistant police chief

By Jeff Truesdell
May 25, 2020 11:50 AM
Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, at left, and Tylee Ryan
Rexburg Police Department (2)

Eight months after the two children of Idaho mom Lori Vallow were last seen, police observed that one of those kids would be turning 8 years old on Monday.

"We would like everyone to know that today (May 25th) is J.J. Vallow's 8th birthday and that we continue to hope and pray for the safe return of both of these beautiful children each and every day," Gary Hagen, assistant chief of police in Rexburg, said in a statement sent to media.

Joshua "J.J." Vallow and his sister, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, have not been seen since September.

Vallow has pleaded not guilty to felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, as well as resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, contempt of court and willful disobedience of court process or order for failing to produce the two kids.

Vallow's sister, Summer Shiflet, said she believes the missing kids are safe and that Vallow has her "reasons" for keeping the whereabouts of her two missing kids hidden.

"I don't know all of her reasons for doing what she's doing," Shiflet said in an interview with 48 Hours. "But I know she has ...  the reasons."

Lori Vallow
John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP

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Vallow's sister and mother, Janis Cox, both insist they believe she has done nothing to hurt the kids.

"She would never harm her children," Cox told 48 Hours. "And I know her."

Added Shiflet: "She's not a monster, she's not a heartless, cold-calculated murderous type of person."

Idaho authorities have confirmed that Vallow and her newlywed husband, Chad Daybell, an author who writes on religious end-of-times themes, are under investigation for possible murder, attempted murder and conspiracy charges in the county where Chad lived at the time his previous wife, Tammy, died two weeks before he and Vallow were married last November. No charges against either of them have been filed in connection with that investigation.

Chad Daybell, at left, and Lori Vallow
Eric Grossarth/ EastIdahoNews.com

The last image of Tylee dates to a Sept. 8 day trip she made to Yellowstone National Park with her mom, brother and uncle Alex Cox, according to the court filing in Madison County, Idaho, that led to Vallow’s February arrest in the children’s disappearance.

Vallow's son J.J. -- an adopted boy who has autism -- was last seen Sept. 23 at his school in Rexburg. Vallow subsequently withdrew J.J. from the school, telling the principal she wanted to homeschool him.

Police in Rexburg allege they have documented several misleading statements from Vallow and Daybell about the children’s whereabouts, and said the couple "abruptly vacated" their Rexburg home last November after J.J.'s out-of-state grandparents first raised concerns and police started asking questions.

The couple was located in late January in Kaua'i, Hawaii, where Vallow was arrested and extradited after defying an Idaho court order to produce the children. Rexburg police have said they “strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives are in danger."

"We urge the public to continue to be vigilant for J.J. and Tylee and if you have any tips or information regarding their whereabouts, please contact the Rexburg police department at 208-359-3008," police said in their statement on Monday.

Daybell has not been charged with any crimes in connection with the children. Vallow is next due in court July 9.

PEOPLE has repeatedly reached out to her attorney, Mark Means, who has not responded.