Lori Vallow's end-of-times obsession raised concerns in 2018 for the aunt

By Jeff Truesdell
February 11, 2020 02:26 PM
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Joshua Vallow, Tylee Ryan
Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, at left, and Tylee Ryan
| Credit: Rexburg Police Department (2)

A mom who police say has not cooperated in the search for her missing children allegedly fantasized about driving them off a cliff, according to the aunt of one of the children.

Mom Lori Vallow‘s alleged obsession with end-of-times prophecies alarmed the aunt, Annie Cushing, beginning in 2018.

“It’s like she wanted me to be afraid of the end times,” Cushing told KSL TV.

In a May 2018 text to her daughter, Cushing added: “It was absolutely exhausting. I dealt with so many lies, even with little things. I think she’s [Lori’s] unhinged and untethered from truth.”

Cushing is the aunt of Lori’s 17-year-old daughter Tylee Ryan, who along with Tylee’s adopted brother, 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, hasn’t been seen since September. The pair has been the subject of a search since November, after other relatives raised alarms about the children’s whereabouts.

The kids had been living in Rexburg, Idaho, with Lori and her new husband, Chad Daybell, an author who writes about doomsday prophecies. The couple “abruptly vacated” their home in late November and disappeared as local authorities prepared to carry out search warrants tied to the children’s disappearance, police said.

Lori and Daybell were located by police on January 25 in Kaua’i, Hawaii, where Lori was given five days to produce the children under a court order and then let that deadline expire without doing so. Authorities have said that her failure to turn over the children to police or child welfare officials placed her at risk of civil or contempt of court charges, but Lori has not faced any repercussions.

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.”

Lori Vallow
Lori Vallow
| Credit: Rexburg Police Department

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Annie Cushing’s brother, Joseph Ryan, was Lori’s third husband and Tylee’s father. The couple divorced after four years in 2004 when Tylee was 18 months old, said Cushing. Joseph Ryan died of a heart attack in March 2018.

It was around that time, Cushing said, that she noticed a change in Lori. She said Lori was dismissive of the death of Tylee’s dad, who died alone in an apartment several days before his body was found. Although local authorities in Arizona where Lori and Joseph lived at the time contacted Lori with the news, Lori never alerted Joseph’s family in Texas, where the couple had lived during their marriage.

“I thought ‘you knew and didn’t tell me?” Cushing said.

But she put aside her reservations and accepted Lori’s invitation to visit Arizona to lend support to Tylee, she said.

“When I got there, it was as if nothing had happened,” Cushing said. “People were hardly talking about Joe and when Lori did, the tenor was — she would actually say, ‘the world is a better place without Joe Ryan.’”

She said Lori also appeared to be discouraging Tylee from mourning her missing dad. “There was also a lot of tension between Tylee and Lori,” she said, and Lori prevented her daughter from spending much time alone with her aunt.

“I just couldn’t wait to get out of there,” Cushing said. “The place was so dark.”

Chad Daybell
Chad Daybell
| Credit: Rexburg Police Department

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.’”

In texts sent to her own daughter during and after the visit, Cushing said she expressed worries about the woman they called “Lolo.”

“I said I think Lolo might be a sociopath,” Cushing said.

She added: “To her, this was all a game. She had no empathy for the suffering anyone else was experiencing, including Tylee.”

In a text message to from the time that she shared with KSL TV, Cushing wrote: ““I just left exhausted from the constant campaigning [against Joseph Ryan] and Lolo’s out-of-control ego. But I feel trapped. I connected with Tylee but don’t want anything to do with Lolo ever again.”

Mom Pulled Son Out of School, Claimed She Had ‘Out-of-State’ Job

J.J. Vallow’s last day in school was September 23, after which Lori pulled him out and said the family had to “move quickly” so she could accept an out-of-state job offer, according to an email sent to his school and shared with PEOPLE. “We know when J.J. was last seen, but nobody seems to know when Tylee was last seen,” Cushing said.

By then Lori’s fourth husband, Charles Vallow, had been fatally shot by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, in a confrontation at Lori’s home in July. Alex said the shooting was self-defense and he was never charged; Alex Cox later also died, although the cause of his death has not been released.

At the time he was killed, Charles Vallow was seeking a divorce from Lori. His legal filings described Lori’s growing embrace of extreme religious beliefs and a claim that 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.”

Lori then moved to Idaho and married Daybell, whose wife died in October under circumstances that police now say they consider to be “suspicious.”

Authorities have not charged Lori with any crimes related to the children’s disappearance.

J.J.’s biological grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, have offered $20,000 for tips leading to the children’s recovery.