Allegations raised in divorce case are the latest twist in the search for 7-year-old Joshua "J.J." Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan

By Jeff Truesdell
February 24, 2020 03:45 PM
Advertisement

Lori Vallow‘s adult niece knows the whereabouts of Vallow’s two missing children, and is “involved in a cult where numerous members, adults and children alike, have been being killed off like flies,” according to allegations raised in a divorce filing by the niece’s husband.

The allegations made by Brandon Boudreaux, who married Vallow’s niece Melani Boudreaux, offer yet another twist in the five-month search for 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and his sister, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, who were last seen in September and whose mother is now sitting in a Hawaii jail on charges related to their disappearance.

Police have accused Lori Vallow of refusing to help find the children in defiance of a court order to produce them. In a statement, police in Rexburg, Idaho, said they “strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives are in danger” after Lori and her husband, Chad Daybell, an author who writes about doomsday prophecies, fled the couple’s Idaho home last November as police began to search for the kids.

That investigation has since yielded a second look at the October death of Daybell’s former wife, Tammy, which officials now term “suspicious,” and focused renewed attention on the July shooting death in Lori’s home of her former husband, Charles, by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, during an alleged altercation. Cox, who claimed self-defense and was not charged in the shooting, also has since died under circumstances that authorities are reviewing.

J.J., an adopted boy who has autism, was last seen September 23 at his school in Rexburg, where the family moved in August from Arizona after the death of Charles Vallow. Lori subsequently withdrew J.J. from the school, telling the principal she wanted to homeschool him.

A newly released image shows the boy on September 17 playing in the front yard of his Idaho home as captured by a doorbell camera surveillance video obtained by the East Idaho News. The video was taken nine days after he, Tylee and their mother were seen together at Yellowstone National Park.

That day trip to Yellowstone, on September 8, represents the last image that authorities have located so far of Tylee, according to the court filing in Madison County, Idaho, that led to Vallow’s arrest. Prosecutors allege she “abandoned her two minor children, delayed law enforcement’s attempts to locate her children, and encouraged another individual to delay law enforcement’s attempts to locate her children.”

After apparently fleeing Idaho in late November, Vallow and Daybell were located January 25 in Kaua’i, Hawaii. Authorities said there was no indication the children were ever in Hawaii with the couple.

Joshua ‘J.J. Vallow, mom Lori Vallow, and sister Tylee Ryan
Rexburg Police Department

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE’s free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Melani Boudreaux was introduced to Daybell’s doomsday writings by Vallow, according to Rich Robertson, a private investigator who is working for the families of Brandon Boudreaux and Charles Vallow. And in the Boudreaux divorce filing, which is focused on child custody matters, Brandon alleges that Melani is under investigation along with Vallow in the disappearance of Vallow’s two children.

According to Robertson, Brandon believes he was the apparent intended target of a drive-by shooting last October at his home in Gilbert, Arizona, in the midst of his divorce from Melani.

Tied to that allegation, Brandon’s divorce paperwork alleges that Melani was part of an “attempted murder” plot to have him killed, citing an insurance policy that made Melani the financial beneficiary of his death. His filing alleges that Melani was “hoping to cash in on that policy to help support the cult that she is believed to be a part of.”

AP/Shutterstock

No charges have been filed in the shooting.

Brandon’s filing states: “[Melani’s] knowledge of the whereabouts of her aunt’s two missing children and her unwillingness to cooperate with law enforcement in finding those children, is daunting to [Brandon]. [Melani’s] current husband has told law enforcement something to the effect that [Melani] says sometimes children are full of light and then just like that they go dark.”

The divorce filing does not identify an attorney for Melani, who has not been charged in connection with the disappearance of Vallow’s children, and one could not be immediately located to speak on her behalf.

Lori Vallow is due in court March 2 in Hawaii to face extradition to Idaho. Among other charges, she faces two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of a child, each of which carries up to 14 years in prison if she is convicted.

She has not yet entered a plea and PEOPLE was unable to reach her attorney.