Reduction in bond from $5 million to $1 million hasn't yet yielded anyone willing to guarantee she won't flee criminal charges

By Jeff Truesdell
March 12, 2020 05:50 PM
Credit: Madison County Sheriff's Office

Lori Vallow smiled during an Idaho court hearing Friday in which a judge reduced her jail bond from $5 million to $1 million, with her attorneys arguing that she did not present a flight risk even as authorities continue to search for her two missing children, who were last seen in September.

Yet six days later, Vallow remains in jail, a spokesman for the Madison County Sheriff’s Office tells PEOPLE.

Putting up the money to free her is “a million-dollar risk,” Guy Chaffin, the owner of Bandit Bail Bonds in Rexburg, tells PEOPLE. “I think that’s a lot of risk to ask somebody to take for her.”

Despite the assertions of Vallow’s defense team, Chaffin notes that Vallow had to be extradited back to Idaho after police say that she and her newlywed husband, Chad Daybell, “abruptly vacated” their home last November and wound up in Hawaii as the investigation into the kids’ disappearance focused on the couple.

“There’s going to be a really, really high risk of her running,” he says.

PEOPLE’s calls to Vallow’s attorneys, Mark Means and Edwina Elcox, have not been returned.

Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, at left, and Tylee Ryan
| Credit: Rexburg Police Department (2)

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Vallow stands accused of two 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.

The allegations result from the apparent disappearance of her 7-year-old son, Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, who authorities say was last seen at his Rexburg school on Sept. 23, and her 17-year-old daughter, Tylee Ryan, who hasn’t been seen since she accompanied her mother, brother and an uncle on a Sept. 8 day trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Lori Vallow, at left, and Chad Daybell
| Credit: Rexburg Police Department (2)

The charges were filed in Madison County after Vallow defied a court order to produce the two children by Jan. 30 to police or child welfare officials.

If convicted, each count carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison, according to the prosecutor’s office. Prosecutor Rob Wood said on Friday that cumulatively, Vallow could face 30 years in prison.

Police in Rexburg have documented several misleading statements about the children from Lori and her husband, an author who writes about religious doomsday prophecies, and said they “strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives are in danger.”

Chaffin said his Rexburg business had not been asked to cover the bond for Vallow’s release. But two other bond companies who say they were approached by her representatives told East Idaho News that the businesses declined to work with her.

A bond typically is paid to guarantee that a defendant who is released from custody will return for future scheduled court dates. Idaho state law dictates that a defendant put up 10 percent of the bond amount — in Lori’s case, $100,000 — but that an attorney can apply for a reduction to 8 percent, or $80,000, says Chaffin.

But if the defendant fails to show up later and can’t be located, whoever underwrote the payment to get the defendant released is liable for the full $1 million.

“That’s the person they’re going to need, and that’s a hard person to find,” says Chaffin.