REXBURG, Idaho — Around two dozen people gathered at Kennedy Elementary School Monday night to commemorate Joshua “JJ” Vallow’s 8th birthday.
The boy, who has been missing with his sister, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, attended the school until his mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, withdrew him last September. Classmates, their parents, community members, Rexburg police officers and others were at the vigil.
After lighting candles, a moment of silence was held before the group sang “Happy Birthday” to JJ. Jeanine Hansen, a Rexburg resident who has been following the case, read the following statement from Kay and Larry Woodcock, JJ’s grandparents:
"As you know, today is our beloved grandson, JJ’s, 8th birthday. His absence is sorely felt by his brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, Larry, me and the world. We were blessed with this special young man’s eight short years ago. He has been a bright light and joy in our lives. The hope of seeing his sweet, smiling face again is what gets us out of bed everyday.
"Tylee, with her beautiful smile and endearing sisterly ways, is our biggest hope they are being properly cared for.
"Lori and Chad, YOU can speak out to end this agony. We pray you feel the humanity and compassion God has instilled within you to bring this nightmare to a close. It is the Christian thing to do.
"The Rexburg area has encompassed us with love and warmth. We now feel this is our second home just as Facebook has been instrumental in communicating our story to the world. Thank you to every person who has shared, copied, pasted pictures and stories in whatever way you have helped to keep this story in the forefront. It’s a worldwide effort to bring these two kids home.
"Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Please let’s keep JJ and Tylee at the forefront and your vigilance is greatly appreciated. We will never give up. Thanks and God bless each of you."
The Vallow & Woodcock family
Daybell is in the Madison County Jail for investigation of two counts of desertion and nonsupport of a dependent child. She refuses to say where her children are and, in a new statement released Monday, Rexburg Police asked the public to contact them with new tips about JJ and Tylee’s whereabouts.
“We can’t express enough how appreciative we are for all of the officers, the community, family members and news media outlets near and far who have dedicated thousands of hours in the search of J.J. and Tylee and that will continue to do so until we have resolve in this case,” Asst. Chief Gary Hagen said in a news release.
Daybell enrolled JJ at Kennedy Elementary on Sept. 3, 2019, according to principal Josh Wilson. Three weeks later, on Sept. 24, his mother unenrolled him and said she would homeschool the boy.
Tylee, 17, was last seen at Yellowstone National Park Police on Sept. 8 with JJ, Daybell and her brother, Alex Cox. The FBI and Rexburg Police are asking visitors who were at the park that day to submit images, video or other information that may assist in their investigation.
“We continue to hope and pray for the safe return of both of these beautiful children each and every day,” Hagen said. “We urge the public to continue to be vigilant for J.J. and Tylee and if you have any tips or information regarding their whereabouts, please contact the Rexburg Police Department at (208) 359-3008.”