Police say Lori Vallow has refused to help them find her two children, who were last seen in September

By Jeff Truesdell
February 13, 2020 12:52 PM

A friend of Lori Vallow‘s says the Idaho mom whose two kids have been missing since September believes the media attention surrounding her will eventually fade.

The friend, April Raymond, told Dateline NBC that Vallow has been “telling people there’s a lot of media hype around her right now, and she’s waiting for that to die down.”

Raymond added, “I don’t know if I would describe it the same way. I would describe it as something a little more serious — a lot more serious.”

Vallow has been under the gaze of police since authorities alleged she has refused to help them find her two missing children, 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan. The grandparents of the adopted boy, who has autism, raised the alarm last fall after they said they’d lost contact with him.

Lori and her new husband, Chad Daybell, an author and speaker on religious doomsday prophecies, “abruptly vacated” their home in Rexburg, Idaho, and left the area last November as authorities readied search warrants tied to the children’s disappearance, police said. The couple was located late last month in Hawaii without the two kids, and Lori then defied a court order to turn them over to police or child welfare workers in Idaho.

Dateline will air a broadcast about the search on Friday (9 p.m. ET).

RELATED: Mom Who Missed Deadline to Produce Missing Kids Fantasized About Driving Them Off ‘a Cliff’: Aunt

Lori has not publicly addressed her children’s whereabouts, and a trail of intrigue has accompanied the children’s disappearance.

Lori Vallow
Rexburg Police Department

Lori’s previous husband, Charles, cited her growing embrace of extreme religious views in divorce papers that claimed Lori believed “she was a God assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020 and that if Father [Charles] got in her way of her mission she would murder him.”

RELATED: Mom of 2 Missing Idaho Kids — Who Refuses to Cooperate — Allegedly Believes She’s God Reincarnated

With the divorce and child custody matters pending, Charles was shot dead last July in a confrontation at Lori’s suburban Phoenix home by Lori’s brother Alex Cox, who claimed self-defense and was not charged. Alex Cox himself died months later, and a cause of death has not been released.

Joshua Vallow, at left, and Tylee Ryan
Rexburg Police Department (2)

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Lori subsequently moved to Idaho and married Daybell, whose previous wife, Tammy, died in October. Police have since said they consider her death to be “suspicious.”

Chad Daybell
Rexburg Police Department

Mom Allegedly Fantasized About Driving Kids off Cliff: Aunt

Both Lori and Daybell were engaged in discussions of end-times prophecies through her participation in podcasts and his writings and public speaking about preparations for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Rexburg police say they “strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives are in danger” and allege that Lori “has refused to work with law enforcement to help us resolve this matter.”

Until relocating to Idaho, Lori and her kids previously lived in Arizona, where Lori pulled her son out of school and cited the need to “move quickly” for an out-of-state job following Charles’ death, according to a September email that a school administrator shared with PEOPLE.

RELATED: Older Brother of Missing Siblings Says He’s ‘Done’ With Mom, Who Isn’t Cooperating with Search

No criminal charges are pending against either Lori or Daybell, although authorities previously said that her refusal to produce the children last month as ordered by an Idaho court would risk civil or contempt of court citations that have not been issued.

Lori’s alleged obsession with end-of-times prophecies at one point in 2018 led her to voice a fantasy about driving herself and her kids off a cliff, according to Tylee Ryan’s aunt, Annie Cushing.

“It’s like she wanted me to be afraid of the end times,” Cushing told KSL TV, discussing a period soon after the death of Tylee’s father and Cushing’s brother, Joseph Ryan. Recalling Lori’s statements anticipating the end of the world, Cushing recalled, “There was one time where she was talking about it and she says, ‘sometimes, I think it would be better just to put my kids in a car and go off the side of a cliff.’”

Dateline will air a broadcast about the search on Friday (9 p.m. ET).

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