Melanie Gibb's testimony came in a case against Vallow's husband, Chad Daybell, tied to the disappearance of her 2 children

By Jeff Truesdell
August 04, 2020 05:01 PM
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Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, at left, and Tylee Ryan
Rexburg Police Department (2)

Melanie Gibb didn't understand why her friends Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell were asking her to lie.

The police might call to inquire about the whereabouts of Vallow's 7-year-old adopted son Joshua "J.J." Vallow, Gibb says Daybell told her in a phone call last November. Don't pick up the phone, she recalled him saying.

"He said the police were at Lori’s house and they were inquiring about where J.J. was, and that she was going to tell police J.J. was with me," Gibb said Monday in an Idaho court, where Daybell faces charges that include conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence in the disappearance of J.J. and his 17-year-old sister, Tylee Ryan, whose bodies were found on June 9 on Chad's Idaho property.

But Gibb, who lived in Arizona, did not have the boy, she told prosecutor Rob Wood. In a follow-up phone call, she says she asked the couple why they would put her in that position. In that call, Gibb mentioned Vallow's brother, Alex Cox.

"I asked Al at one point ... if I wanted to know where [J.J.] was, and he said I did not want to know and he [J.J.] would not be found," Gibb said, reports KNXV.

"I don't know why he would say that," Vallow responded, according to Gibb. "I don't want anybody to know so nobody has to be worried about it, no one has to be questioned about it."

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

Authorities who found the remains of the children -- last seen in September -- said J.J., clad in his red pajamas, had been duct-taped at the hands and feet and had a plastic bag taped over his head.

In a nearby pet cemetery, authorities recovered a mass of burned flesh and bone contained in a melted green bucket, and under the bucket was a partial human skull, Rexburg police Det. Ray Hermosillo said in court Monday. Those remains were later confirmed to belong to Tylee Ryan.

No one has been charged in the children's deaths.

Police said the children were last seen alive in September. Fremont County Judge Faren Eddins is hearing testimony in the charges against Daybell, who has pleaded not guilty, to decide whether to bound him over for trial.

Melanie Gibb in court Aug. 3, 2020
John Roark/Post Register

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Vallow has also been charged with conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence, but has not yet entered a plea. A hearing on the charges against her is scheduled for Monday.

Meanwhile, she is being held on $1 million bond on earlier charges 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 defying a December court order to produce the two kids. She has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Kids Reported Missing in November

Vallow and Daybell, an author who writes about religious doomsday prophecies, were married Nov. 5 and quickly became the targets of police scrutiny in the kids’ disappearance after J.J.’s out-of-state grandparents filed a missing-persons report later that same month. J.J. is the adopted son of Vallow and her previous husband, Charles Vallow.

Before police could execute a search warrant on the couple’s Rexburg home, however, police said the couple fled, only to be located without the kids on Jan. 25 in Kaua’i, Hawaii. Vallow was arrested there on Feb. 20 after refusing the court order to turn over the children to police or child welfare officials.

While looking for the children, Rexburg police say they documented several misleading statements about their whereabouts from the pair, and said then that they “strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives [were] in danger.”

Joshua "J.J." Vallow, at left, with sister Tylee Ryan, center, and Alex Cox

J.J. was last seen Sept. 23 at his school in Rexburg, before his mother unenrolled him and told the principal she was considering home-schooling. The last known image of Tylee was taken Sept. 8 while Tylee was on a day trip to Yellowstone National Park with her mother, brother and her uncle, Alex Cox, according to a court filing in Madison County, Idaho.

Authorities using Cox's cell phone records allegedly placed him on Daybell's property on two dates that align with the last time the children were seen, and used that as a basis to search there for the children's bodies.

Cox killed Charles Vallow, who was then estranged from Lori, in July 2019 in what he described as a self-defense shooting during an altercation at Lori's home in Arizona before she moved to Idaho. Cox was not charged. Then, in December, Cox died after he was discovered unresponsive in the bathroom of the home he shared with his wife of 12 days in Gilbert, Arizona. A medical examiner eventually ruled that Cox died of natural causes.

Daybell married Vallow two weeks after the Oct. 19 death of his then-wife, Tammy. The investigation into the children’s disappearance has since yielded a second look at Tammy’s death, which officials have subsequently termed “suspicious.”