LIHU‘E — Lori Vallow, Idaho mother of two missing children and wife of Chad Daybell, made her first court appearance on Kaua‘i Friday afternoon.
She is being held on $5 million bail, a figure that was not reduced. She remains in custody now at the Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center in Wailua, awaiting her next hearing, set for Monday, March 2, regarding her extradition back to Idaho.
Vallow, 46, was arrested in Princeville on Thursday on charges of felony child desertion and nonsupport of dependent children. She was also charged with resisting officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court.
Vallow’s children, 7 year-old “JJ” Vallow and 17 year-old sister, Tylee Ryan, haven’t been seen since September. Vallow and Daybell have been on Kaua‘i for several months.
In the courtroom on Friday, Vallow’s attorney, Daniel G. Hempey, representing the firm De Costa Hemp Attorneys at Law, requested Judge Kathleen Watanabe lower the bail to $10,000, arguing Vallow has a residence on Kaua‘i and that the firm and his client have complied and cooperated with the Kaua‘i Police Department.
He also pointed out the firm was poised to turn Vallow into custody before her arrest, and that police knew she was on Kaua‘i.
“Instead, she was arrested and media was calling us all day,” Hempey said. “It seems like it was a made-for-media event at taxpayer expense.”
Included in Hempey’s request for bail reduction was a request to set the extradition hearing for Monday, March 2, “as soon as possible,” especially if the court wouldn’t consider a lower bail.
Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar argued the extradition hearing should be held after March. 5, due to a long process of identification verification through fingerprints that need to be sent to O‘ahu and re-analyzed by the right authorities.
Identification evidence is important in extradition hearings to determine if the person in question is the same person listed on the warrant — in this case, the Idaho warrant. Kollar also requested Vallow be required to surrender her passport to KPD should she pay that $5 million bail. Hempey said Vallow does not have a passport.
Watanabe did not adjust bail — it remains at $5 million, but did accommodate Hempey’s request for a hearing date.
In a press conference following the hearing, KPD Chief Todd G. Raybuck emphasized that KPD is just supporting the lead agency on the case — Rexburg Police Department — and that KPD doesn’t have any details about the location of the children.
Kollar also addressed the media, saying “the extradition proceedings concern simply the mechanics of getting Vallow from here back to Idaho. The underlying substance or merits of the case involving the children will not be litigated here on Kauai.”
Raybuck confirmed there are no criminal charges pending on Chad Daybell, and “he is free to move about as he wishes.”
Associated Press reports court documents have been released from Idaho that fill in some of the missing pieces in a case that’s captivated America and headlined “Dateline NBC” and multiple other media and entertainment outlets.
The documents paint a bleak picture, with police saying Vallow repeatedly lied about her children’s whereabouts, their belongings had been found in an abandoned storage unit.
Of Vallow’s children, Tylee disappeared first, according to a probable-cause affidavit written by Rexburg police Lt. Ron Ball. The teen went on a day trip to nearby Yellowstone National Park with her mom, little brother and uncle. A National Park Service camera captured her image at the entrance, and a photo from Vallow’s computer shows the girl made it inside the park, according to the AP report.
But, in the document, Ball says there has been no trace of Tylee since.
Then JJ vanished, the document says. He was enrolled in an elementary school for a few weeks in September and last seen there, shortly before Vallow told employees that she was going to homeschool the boy.
Investigations into strange circumstances surrounding Vallow didn’t begin in September. Her former husband, Charles Vallow, was shot and killed in July at the family’s suburban Phoenix home by her brother, Alex Cox.
The Vallows’ marriage had been crumbling. Charles had filed for divorce, saying in court documents that he feared she would kill him and that she’d developed strange, doomsday-cult-like beliefs, reportedly calling herself “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020.”
Cox told police the shooting was in self-defense, that Charles Vallow had come at him with a baseball bat. Police investigated, but the case didn’t go far before Cox died of unknown causes in his Arizona home in December. Toxicology reports done as part of an autopsy have not yet been released.
Lori Vallow moved to Idaho with the kids. She got an apartment in Rexburg in early September and reportedly continued spending time with an old acquaintance, Chad Daybell.
He’s a publisher and author who has written several books loosely based on theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, largely focused on doomsday scenarios. He also posted podcasts for an online organization aimed at church members, with an interest in preparing for biblical end times.
Lori Vallow participated in some of the podcasts, and the two had grown close.
Daybell’s longtime wife, Tammy Daybell, died in October. The obituary said the 49-year-old fit school librarian died of natural causes, and the family declined an autopsy before she was buried in Utah. About two weeks later, Chad Daybell and Vallow married on a Hawai‘i beach.
Meanwhile, JJ’s grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock of Louisiana, were increasingly worried about the kids. Regular phone calls with JJ grew infrequent, then stopped in August. They couldn’t get answers.
Idaho authorities were growing suspicious after hearing that Daybell had married so soon after his wife’s unexpected death. They exhumed Tammy Daybell’s body. The results of toxicology and other testing have not yet been released.
In late November, police in Rexburg showed up at Vallow’s apartment to check on the children at the grandparents’ request. Investigators spoke with Cox and Daybell and got a strange reaction, documents say.
“Chad acted as if he didn’t know Lori very well and stated he didn’t know her phone number. Alex told the detectives that J.J. was with his grandma, Kay Woodcock, in Louisiana, which was not likely to be true due to the fact that Kay was the individual who first called in a missing-child report,” Ball wrote.
The lieutenant said Vallow told him that the boy was in Arizona with a friend. That friend told police that JJ hadn’t been to her house for months.
When Rexburg police returned, Vallow’s home was empty.
The investigation has turned up disturbing findings but no sign of the children. Their belongings, including JJ’s winter clothes, were found in an abandoned storage unit in Rexburg last month. Police searching Vallow’s apartment found medicine prescribed to JJ, who has autism, but it was dated January 2019, and the prescription has never been filled in Idaho, records show.
Daybell and Vallow were living in Hawai‘i by then, in the same town where she and her first husband resided years earlier. Police searched the couple’s house and car last month and found the children’s birth certificates, Tylee’s bank card and JJ’s iPad, but say there’s no evidence the children ever arrived in Hawai‘i.
Vallow was ordered by a judge to produce the kids to Idaho authorities last month, but she didn’t comply. Police asked for an arrest warrant this week, calling the couple a “flight risk.”
“Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell have signiﬁcant ﬁnancial resources. I am aware that Chad Daybell received at least $430,000 in life-insurance proceeds upon the death of his wife Tammy. As such, Lori and Chad have resources sufﬁcient to help them travel and hide from law enforcement and the court,” Ball wrote.
Daybell was at the Friday hearing, but did not speak with reporters or make any public statement.
Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to the story.