REXBURG, Idaho — Investigators have received hundreds of possible tips regarding the location of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan.
“I don’t think we’re any closer than what we were two weeks ago … (and) time is always of the essence in any case, especially something like this,” Rexburg Police Capt. Gary Hagen told EastIdahoNews.com on Friday.
The tips have been coming in from all across the country since the kids’ disappearance was announced last Friday. Hagen says he has a team of eight officers that spend a great deal of time following up and coordinating checks on the credible tips they receive.
The department also continues to have regular meetings with the FBI’s Salt Lake City office, the Fremont County Sheriff’s office, and police in the Arizona cities of Chandler and Gilbert. They are interviewing family and friends, following leads and they continue to monitor the situation.
“Every investigative tool out there, we’ve been using,” Hagen said. “Right now, we’re just actively seeking those kids and doing follow-ups with all those tips that have been pouring in. Maybe we have a tip in the pile that we are going through and something in five minutes will break.”
Joshua and Tylee have been missing since September, and their mother, Lori Daybell, and stepfather, Chad Daybell, are refusing to cooperate with police in their attempts to speak with the children to perform a welfare check.
Although they have been named persons of interest in the disappearance of the children, no charges have been filed. Hagen says police still simply want to speak to the parents about the whereabouts of Joshua and Tylee.
“We just strongly feel that if the mom and dad felt like or if they knew that the kids were safe, they would show proof of it, but we have yet to see anything,” Hagen said.
The Daybells have retained Rexburg attorney Sean Bartholick, of Rigby, Andrus & Rigby, to act as their spokesman and legal counsel. Hagen confirms local prosecutors are in talks with Bartholick, but the details of those conversations can’t be shared publicly.
Chad and Lori Daybell are believed to have “abruptly left town” in late November without the children. Police are not sure of their whereabouts, although Bartholick says he is in contact with them.
The Daybells have stayed quiet throughout the investigation, only releasing a brief statement to the media through their attorney.
“Chad Daybell was a loving husband and has the support of his children in this matter,” Monday’s statement to EastIdahoNews.com said. “Lori Daybell is a devoted mother and resents assertions to the contrary. We look forward to addressing the allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor.”
On Friday, Hagen did address rumors that cropped up online that this is all related to a child custody battle.
“That’s what they claim, but we have proved that there is no active custody battle,” Hagen said.
Police say the last time anyone saw Joshua and Tylee was in Rexburg in September. The Daybells were last seen Nov. 26.
Investigations into spouses’ deaths
Investigators also continue to look at connections between the missing children case and the deaths of the Daybells’ former spouses.
Daybell’s first wife, Tammy, was found dead in her Fremont County home on Oct. 19, according to a release from the Rexburg Police Department. Authorities initially thought her death was from natural causes but have since deemed her death suspicious and exhumed her remains on Dec. 11.
Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries told EastIdahoNews.com on Friday investigators are still awaiting results from the autopsy, before they can move forward. It will be several weeks before the results are released.
Humphries also said Bartholick contacted his office to notify them that he is representing the Daybells, but Humphries said no other information was yielded from that conversation.
Chad and Lori are thought to have been married several weeks after the death of Tammy Daybell.
Authorities also continue to look into the death of Lori’s former spouse, Charles Vallow, who was shot and killed in July by her brother Alex Cox. Authorities in Maricopa County, Arizona, are investigating that case as well. Police in Arizona have not released any updates as of Friday afternoon.
No charges have been filed in either case.
Help finding the children
Joshua is a 7-year-old with brown hair and brown eyes. He is 4 feet tall and weighs 50 pounds. Tylee is a 17-year-old with blond hair and blue eyes. She is 5 feet tall and weighs 160 pounds.
Lori Vallow Daybell is 46 years old, and has blond hair and blue eyes. She weighs 125 pounds and is 5 feet, 6 inches tall. Chad Daybell is 51 years old, and has brown hair and blue eyes. He weighs 230 pounds and is 6 feet, 3 inches tall.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the children is asked to contact the Rexburg Police Department, at (208) 359-3000, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), at (800) THE-LOST.