The children's remains were found on their stepfather's property last week

By Steve Helling
June 15, 2020 05:53 PM
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Joshua Vallow, Tylee Ryan
Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, at left, and Tylee Ryan
| Credit: Rexburg Police Department (2)

Hundreds of people gathered at a vigil on Friday night to honor the lives of Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, whose remains were found on their new stepfather's property -- and one of the speakers at the gathering shared personal stories of growing up with 17-year-old Tylee.

Alexcia Law told the crowd of about 200 mourners that she had been best friends with Tylee from 12 to 15 years old, when they both lived in Hawaii. The girls remained in touch even after they moved away from each other.

Law told the crowd that she had texted with Tylee on the day she was last seen. "The day she went missing, she told me -- she's like, 'I love you,'" Law recounted, according to Fox 13. "And I said, 'I love you too.' And then I never texted her or saw her again."

Tylee Ryan and Joshua Vallow
Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, at left, and his sister Tylee Ryan

According to Law, she and Tylee became so close that she felt like she was a "second daughter" to Lori Vallow Daybell, the children's mother, who now sits in jail on charges relating to their disappearance.

"It is hard because I saw Lori as, like, my second mom," she told KUTV after the vigil.

Authorities found the remains of the two children on property belonging to doomsday writer Chad Daybell last week. Daybell has been charged with two counts of destruction, alteration and concealment of evidence. He has not yet entered a plea.

J.J. was last seen on September 23 in Rexburg, Idaho, when his mother withdrew him from school, telling the principal she planned to homeschool him. Tylee was last seen at a Sept. 8 day trip to Yellowstone National Park.

In January, authorities gave Lori Vallow five days to produce the children and prove that they were safe. After she failed to do that, she was arrested.

Vallow has been charged with felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, 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 children. She has pleaded not guilty and is being held on $1 million bond.

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Chad Daybell Lori Vallow
Chad Daybell, left, and Lori Vallow
| Credit: Rexburg Police Department ; Madison County Sheriff's Office/AP/Shutterstock

Authorities have not commented whether the charges will be upgraded against Vallow or Daybell after the discovery of the children's remains. An attorney for Vallow and Daybell has not returned PEOPLE's calls for comment.

As friends and family mourn the loss of the children, Alexcia Law told the assembled crowd that she appreciated seeing the outpouring of support. "They really do deserve the best," she said. "They deserve to have that love because they were the sweetest people in the world."