Documents: Cellphone pings helped find children’s bodies

Posted at 9:47 AM, June 22, 2020 and last updated 7:11 PM, May 18, 2023

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Authorities used cellphone information from the now-deceased uncle of two missing Idaho children to find the youths’ bodies on a rural property earlier this month, according to court documents.


Police found the remains of 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and her brother, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, on June 9 after months of searching. They hadn’t been seen since September and investigators said the children’s mother Lori Vallow Daybell and her husband Chad Daybell lied to police about the children’s whereabouts.

KBOI reported that court documents made public late Friday reveal that the FBI tracked the cellphone of Alex Cox, Vallow’s brother and JJ and Tylee’s uncle.

The FBI tracked Cox’s cellphone on Daybell’s property four times during the month of September. According to court documents, Cox’s phone pinged on Sept. 6, 9, 23 and 25 at the location where the remains were found.

In this aerial photo, investigators search for human remains at Chad Daybell’s residence in the 200 block of 1900 east, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in Salem, Idaho. Authorities say they uncovered human remains at Daybell’s home as they investigated the disappearance of his new wife’s two children. Police in the small town of Rexburg say Daybell was taken into custody Tuesday. He had recently married the children’s mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, who has been charged with child abandonment. (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP)

Neighbors also confirmed they saw fires on the property around Sept. 6 and 9, which they said was unusual because a fire pit on the property was hardly used, according to court documents.

Chad Daybell has pleaded not guilty to destroying evidence. Lori Daybell has been in jail since February, charged with child abandonment and obstructing the investigation. Both Daybells are being held on $1 million bond, and both are scheduled for preliminary hearings next month.

The complex case spans several states and began when Lori Daybell’s brother shot and killied her estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in suburban Phoenix last summer in what he asserted was self-defense. Vallow was seeking a divorce, saying Lori believed she had become a god-like figure who was responsible for ushering in the biblical end times.

FILE – This combination of undated file photos released by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children show Joshua Vallow, left, and Tylee Ryan.  (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children via AP, File)

Her brother, Alex Cox, then died in December of an apparent blood clot in his lung.

Shortly after Vallow’s death, Lori and the children moved to Idaho, where Chad Daybell lived. He ran a small publishing company, putting out fiction books he wrote about apocalyptic scenarios loosely based on the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He also recorded podcasts about preparing for biblical end times, and friends said he claimed to be able to receive visions from “beyond the veil.”

He was married to Tammy Daybell, who died in her sleep last October of what her obituary said were natural causes. Authorities grew suspicious when Chad Daybell married Lori just two weeks later.

They had Tammy Daybell’s body exhumed in December. The results of that autopsy have not been released.