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Best friend of Lori Vallow’s daughter Tylee Ryan tells how ‘cult’ mom was like mother to her

A close friend of Tylee Ryan has revealed her heartbreak over the news that the 17-year-old and her little brother Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow were found buried in their stepfather’s backyard nine months after they went missing. 

Alexcia Law spoke out prior to a vigil for Tylee and JJ in Idaho Falls, Idaho, on Saturday night, less than a week after their remains were recovered from Chad Daybell’s property in nearby Salem.   

Chad and the children’s mother, Lori Vallow, are both behind bars on charges related to their disappearance. 

Alexcia choked up as she described how Tylee was like a sister to her, and how Lori treated her like a ‘second daughter’.   

 ‘It is hard because I saw Lori as, like, my second mom,’ she told KUTV

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Alexcia Law shared her heartbreak over the death of her friend Tylee Ryan in an interview with Salt Lake City news station KUTV (pictured)

Alexcia Law shared her heartbreak over the death of her friend Tylee Ryan in an interview with Salt Lake City news station KUTV (pictured)

Alexcia Law shared her heartbreak over the death of her friend Tylee Ryan in an interview with Salt Lake City news station KUTV (pictured) 

Seventeen-year-old Tylee (pictured) and her seven-year-old brother Joshua 'JJ' Vallow were found buried in the backyard of their stepfather Chad Daybell's home in Salem, Idaho, last week

Seventeen-year-old Tylee (pictured) and her seven-year-old brother Joshua 'JJ' Vallow were found buried in the backyard of their stepfather Chad Daybell's home in Salem, Idaho, last week

Tylee and JJ (pictured) had disappeared within two weeks of each other last September

Tylee and JJ (pictured) had disappeared within two weeks of each other last September

Seventeen-year-old Tylee (left) and her seven-year-old brother JJ (right) were found buried in the backyard of their stepfather Chad Daybell’s home in Salem, Idaho, last week, seven months after they disappeared last September 

The children's mother, Lori Vallow, is currently behind bars on charges related to their disappearance. In her interview with KUTV, Alexcia described Lori as a 'second mom'

The children's mother, Lori Vallow, is currently behind bars on charges related to their disappearance. In her interview with KUTV, Alexcia described Lori as a 'second mom'

The children’s mother, Lori Vallow, is currently behind bars on charges related to their disappearance. In her interview with KUTV, Alexcia described Lori as a ‘second mom’

Alexcia met Tylee when they lived in Hawaii a few years ago and Lori served as the children’s leader at their church. 

She said she and Tylee quickly became best friends while living a few doors down from each other in Hawaii.  

‘She was always so happy, and she loved JJ, and she did everything with him,’ Alexcia said of Tylee. 

She said Tylee had a very close and loving relationship with her mother when she knew them, and reminisced about the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies Lori used to make for the girls.   

Alexcia said she was stunned when she heard about Tylee and JJ’s deaths, and that their mother was jailed for charges including child abandonment and desertion.  

However, she was less surprised by the allegations that Lori was a member of a Doomsday cult led by her husband Chad.  

‘Lori would talk about the end of the world and the second coming all the time,’ Alexcia said. 

‘She would joke about it. She’d be like: “Let’s go off a cliff. The world is going to end, let’s just die all together.” And talk about running all of us off of a cliff together.’ 

Alexcia said she and everyone else took Lori’s comments as a joke, never thinking that the mother actually believed what she was saying about the end of the world.  

She lost touch with Tylee and her family when they moved back to Arizona about four years ago. Alexcia herself left Hawaii for Utah, where she lives now, around the same time. 

Alexcia said she got back in touch with Tylee briefly last summer, after her stepfather Charles Vallow, Lori’s fourth husband, was killed in July.  

‘I texted her, I was like: “I’m thinking about you and hope you’re okay.” She was like: “I’m okay,” and I never heard from her again,’ Alexcia said. ‘It was really sad.’

She said she wants others to remember Tylee and JJ as the ‘sweetest people’ they were, rather than the tragic manner in which they died. 

Alexcia met the Vallow family when they lived in Hawaii a few years ago. She said she wants others to remember Tylee and JJ as the 'sweetest people' they were, rather than the tragic manner in which they died

Alexcia met the Vallow family when they lived in Hawaii a few years ago. She said she wants others to remember Tylee and JJ as the 'sweetest people' they were, rather than the tragic manner in which they died

Alexcia met the Vallow family when they lived in Hawaii a few years ago. She said she wants others to remember Tylee and JJ as the ‘sweetest people’ they were, rather than the tragic manner in which they died

Hundreds turned out for the candlelight vigil for JJ and Tylee on Saturday night in Idaho Falls

Hundreds turned out for the candlelight vigil for JJ and Tylee on Saturday night in Idaho Falls

Hundreds turned out for the candlelight vigil for JJ and Tylee on Saturday night in Idaho Falls

Hundreds of people turned out for the candlelight vigil on Saturday night in Idaho Falls, which came just hours after the Rexburg Police Department confirmed that the remains recovered from Chad’s property were positively identified as JJ and Tylee. 

Family members who for months clung to hope that the kids would be found had made the confirmation days earlier. 

The vigil was organized by Timanee Olsen, a specialty cookie baker who didn’t know JJ or Tylee’s families but had closely followed the case since it was first announced in December.  

‘I never thought it would come to this – I didn’t think they were dead,’ Olsen said. ‘It’s just sparked a lot of sadness in our town.’  

The vigil included poetry, prayer, music and a moment of silence for JJ and Tylee.  

Timanee Olsen, who organized the vigil, speaks to the large group of attendees on Saturday

Timanee Olsen, who organized the vigil, speaks to the large group of attendees on Saturday

Timanee Olsen, who organized the vigil, speaks to the large group of attendees on Saturday

Many attendees broke down in tears as they held a moment of silence for JJ and Tylee

Many attendees broke down in tears as they held a moment of silence for JJ and Tylee

Many attendees broke down in tears as they held a moment of silence for JJ and Tylee

Attendees are seen writing personal messages on index cards that will be delivered to JJ and Tylee's families

Attendees are seen writing personal messages on index cards that will be delivered to JJ and Tylee's families

Attendees are seen writing personal messages on index cards that will be delivered to JJ and Tylee’s families

Attendees came from as far away as Arizona, where Tylee, JJ and Lori lived until they moved to Rexburg last August – weeks before the children vanished.    

April Raymond, who was friends with Lori when they lived in Hawaii, drove up from Utah to pay her respects.  

‘I’m glad we have some answers but I’m waiting for a lot more,’ Raymond told the East Idaho News. 

‘We really wanted to be here. It was important for me to have an opportunity to remember Tylee and JJ the way that we would like to.’  

Attendees wrote personal messages on index cards that will be delivered to JJ and Tylee’s families.  

‘Most of us haven’t felt this kind of pain or loss,’ Lee Linde said during the closing prayer. 

‘I think we can all feel the pain of this loss whether you knew JJ and Tylee or not because this kind of tragedy affects us all.’

JJ’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, were unable to attend the vigil but watched it via livestream on Facebook.  

At the end Larry wrote in the comments: ‘God bless you all! Thank you for supporting the loss of our kids.’   

Rexburg Police on Saturday confirmed that the two sets of remains recovered from Chad Daybell's property (pictured) had been officially identified as JJ and Tylee

Rexburg Police on Saturday confirmed that the two sets of remains recovered from Chad Daybell's property (pictured) had been officially identified as JJ and Tylee

Rexburg Police on Saturday confirmed that the two sets of remains recovered from Chad Daybell’s property (pictured) had been officially identified as JJ and Tylee 

Chad, 51, is facing two felony charges in the disappearance of his wife Lori's children

Chad, 51, is facing two felony charges in the disappearance of his wife Lori's children

Lori is currently behind bars on charges of neglect and desertion

Lori is currently behind bars on charges of neglect and desertion

Chad Daybell, 51, is facing two felony charges in the disappearance of his wife Lori’s children. Lori is currently behind bars on charges of neglect and desertion

Timeline of JJ and Tylee’s disappearance 

July 11, 2019: Lori Vallow’s husband, Charles Vallow, is killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona. 

August: Lori moves children JJ and Tylee to Rexburg, Idaho, where Chad Daybell lives with his wife Tammy.

September 8: The last time Tylee is seen during a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Lori, JJ and Alex. 

September 23: The last time JJ is seen at his school in Rexburg.  

October 19: Chad’s wife Tammy, 49, dies at their Idaho home. 

October 25: A friend of Tylee receives a vague ‘miss you’ text from her phone but says that it didn’t sound like the teen.   

November 5: Lori and Chad tie the knot on a beach in Kauai.  

November 26: Out-of-state relatives ask Idaho police to perform a welfare check on JJ and learn both he and Tylee have not been seen for months.  

November 27: Police execute a search warrant related to the children at Lori’s home and discover that she and Chad have fled Idaho.

December 11: Tammy’s body is exhumed from a Utah cemetery and her death is reclassified as suspicious.

December 12: Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, is found unresponsive in Arizona and dies.  

December 21: Rexburg police issue the first press release about JJ and Tylee, revealing they believe their disappearance could be linked to Tammy’s death.

December 24: Lori and Chad issue a statement through an attorney saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing ‘allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor’.

December 30: Police accuse Lori and Chad of lying to investigators and say they believe the couple know where the kids are or what happened to them.

January 3, 2020: Police search Chad’s home in Salem and remove 43 items. They also comb over sections of the snow-covered yard with rakes and metal detectors.

January 26: Lori and Chad are seen for the first time in months as police serve them with a court order to produce the children to authorities in Idaho in five days. 

January 30: Lori misses the court deadline to produce the children to Idaho authorities.

February 20: Lori is arrested in Kauai. 

March 5: Lori is extradited to Idaho, where she is held on $1million bond at Madison County Jail. 

April 9: Authorities reveal they are investigating Lori and Chad for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with Tammy’s death. 

June 9: Police search Chad’s home in Salem for the second time and discover human remains in the backyard. Chad is taken into police custody and charged with destruction or concealment of evidence.

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Nearly a week after the children’s remains were found last Tuesday, many questions in the complicated case remain unanswered.  

Chad is currently being held on $1million bond at Fremont County Jail on two counts of destruction or concealment of evidence.  

Lori has spent the past four months behind bars at the neighboring Madison County Jail on five charges related to the children’s disappearance: two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of children and one misdemeanor count each for obstructing an investigation, criminal solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court.

Prosecutors have not said whether they plan to add additional charges in light of the bodies being found. 

Tylee and JJ were last seen in Idaho in September but were never reported missing by Lori or Chad, the man she married weeks after the kids vanished.  

Authorities began searching for the children in late November after performing a welfare check ordered by concerned relatives who said they hadn’t spoken to seven-year-old JJ, who is autistic, in months.

When officers first went to Lori’s home in Idaho on November 26, she told them that JJ was visiting relatives in Arizona – which investigators say was a lie.  

Officers returned the following day and found that Lori and Chad had fled from the home.  

Authorities say the couple have repeatedly lied about where JJ and Tylee are and refused to cooperate with the investigation.   

Lori and Chad were named persons of interest in the children’s disappearance after investigators said they believe the mother knew where her children were or what happened to them.  

The case captured nationwide attention with the revelations that police are also investigating three mysterious deaths linked to Lori and Chad, as well as family members’ claims that the couple are members of a dangerous doomsday cult.  

The first death is that of Lori’s estranged husband Charles Vallow, who was shot dead by her brother Alex Cox in Arizona on July 10.  

Charles and Lori had gotten into an argument when the father came to pick up JJ at the mother’s home in Chandler. 

Lori’s brother intervened and fatally shot Charles. 

Police initially determined that he acted in self defense – but the case was reopened amid the multi-state search for JJ and Tylee, who had moved to Idaho, where Chad lived, with their mother in August.   

The second mysterious death was that of Chad’s first wife Tammy Daybell, who was found dead at the home they shared on October 19.  

An obituary stated that Tammy passed away in her sleep and her cause of death was ruled as natural after Chad reportedly declined an autopsy. 

Investigators reopened the case after learning that JJ and Tylee were missing, as their mother had married Chad just two weeks after Tammy died. 

They believe the two cases could be linked.

Tammy’s body was exhumed on December 11 and the autopsy results have not yet been released. 

On December 12, Lori’s brother, Cox, was found dead in Gilbert, Arizona. 

An autopsy determined that the 51-year-old’s died of natural causes but noted that he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system at the time.  

Police tracked Lori and Chad down in Princeville, Hawaii, in late January and served the mother with a court order requiring her to physically produce the children to authorities in Idaho by January 30. 

Lori failed to meet the deadline, prompting her arrest and extradition to Idaho, where she is currently being held at Madison County Jail in lieu of $1million bond.

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