Lori Vallow’s sister has broken her silence for the first time since the bodies of her niece and nephew, Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, were found buried in the ‘cult’ mom’s husband’s backyard two weeks ago.
Summer Shiflet shared her anguish over the devastating discovery in a Facebook post on Monday, writing: ‘The last few months have been hard. The last week has been excruciating. Losing our precious Tylee and JJ in this horrific way is more than we can bear.’
It’s been just over a month since Shiflet and her mother, Janice Cox, defended Lori in a CBS interview and insisted that the children were safe because their mom would never hurt them.
Now, Shiflet says: ‘I was wrong.’
Lori Vallow’s sister Summer Shiflet has broken her silence for the first time since the bodies of her niece and nephew, Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, were found buried in the ‘cult’ mom’s husband’s backyard two weeks ago. Shiflet is pictured with 17-year-old Tylee
Shiflet shared her anguish in a Facebook post Monday, writing: ‘The last few months have been hard. The last week has been excruciating. Losing our precious Tylee and JJ in this horrific way is more than we can bear.’ She included several family photos of the children in the post
Police dug the remains of seven-year-old JJ and 17-year-old Tylee on Lori’s husband Chad Daybell’s property in Salem, Idaho, on June 9.
The discovery marked the conclusion of a seven-month, multi-state search for the children, who hadn’t been seen since September 2019 but were never reported missing by their mother.
The story captured nationwide attention with the revelations that police were also investigating at least three suspicious deaths linked to Lori and Chad, as well as relatives’ claims that the couple are members of a dangerous doomsday cult.
Lori was arrested in February and has spent the past four months behind bars on felony charges for abandonment and desertion.
Chad was arrested the same day the bodies were found and was charged with two felony counts for destruction or concealment of evidence.
Prosecutors have not said whether they plan to add additional charges in light of the bodies being found.
Lori has spent the past four months behind bars on felony charges for abandonment and desertion
Speaking out last month, Shiflet and Cox said they didn’t know where the children were or why Lori was refusing to cooperate with investigators.
However, the women were confident that JJ and Tylee would be found unharmed and that Lori had a reason for her noncompliance.
‘She’s invested her whole life in those children,’ Cox said. ‘So we know there’s another whole side to this. We don’t know what it is. But we know her.’
In her Facebook statement this week, Shiflet briefly addressed her prior misconceptions.
‘We have prayed for the truth to come to light, but we never thought it would look like this,’ she wrote. ‘Believe me when I say, this has looked very different from my perspective than what the public has seen.
‘It’s easy to jump on a bandwagon when you don’t personally know all the people involved. When you have been up close and personal, you can’t discount your own interactions, and just go by what everyone else says and thinks.
‘I know there are people waiting for me to admit I was wrong. If that’s all you want to know… here it is… I was wrong. I am an extremely imperfect person that loves my family with all my heart, and I wanted to believe the best in them, and I held out hope for the best possible outcome. I have always said things truthfully as I understood them, and will continue to do that as I learn new information.’
Last month Shiflet (left) and her mother Janice Cox (right) defended Lori in a CBS interview and insisted that the children were safe because their mom would never hurt them
This undated family photo shows Lori with her family – including her sister Shiflet (back center), brother Alex Cox (back left) and mother Janice Cox (front left)
Lori’s husband Chad Daybell (left) was arrested for two felony counts of destruction of evidence after the children’s bodies were found in his yard on June 9. A probable cause affidavit alleges that Lori’s brother Alex Cox (right) helped bury the bodies
This aerial photo shows investigators digging up the remains of JJ and Tylee on Chad’s property on June 9. In her Facebook post Shiflet wrote: ‘We have prayed for the truth to come to light, but we never thought it would look like this’
Shiflet thanked investigators for their enduring efforts to find the children, and JJ’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, who requested a welfare check that sparked the search in November.
‘I have a tremendous amount of gratitude to all of the law enforcement that have worked so hard to find Tylee and JJ,’ she wrote.
‘When I first heard that remains had been found, I immediately felt the need to pray for those who found them. And I continue to pray for those who were on the scene, removed the remains, and have to analyze them to try to piece together what those poor babies endured.
‘I feel for those who do this work and am so grateful they are willing to do this, to help bring peace and closure to families.
‘I am also grateful to the Woodcocks for ordering the wellness check. I pray for them to have peace and comfort as well. My mother has been here with me the past few days and we both feel the same about this.
‘I feel so incredibly grateful to all of our friends and family and even the strangers that have reached out to offer their love and support. I have leaned on them more than they know.’
She continued: ‘Tylee and JJ are completely irreplaceable in our family. I have loved them greatly all of their lives. There are no words that can capture this loss.
‘We had prayed our hearts out for them and hoped with all of our hearts they were safe. But we sadly have to face this new reality and our family will never ever be the same.
‘Sadly, there is no way to go back and undo what has been done. We can only go forward. As much as we miss them here, I know my beautiful Tyty and precious JJ are in a beautiful place with people they love.’
Shiflet included several family photos with the children in her post – though none of them featured Lori.
‘Tylee and JJ are completely irreplaceable in our family. I have loved them greatly all of their lives. There are no words that can capture this loss,’ Shiflet wrote in her Facebook post
The post included several photos of JJ and Tylee growing up. Tylee, who was 17 when she died, is seen as a toddler one photo (left). Another photo shows a young boy holding baby JJ
Tylee is seen with her grandmother Janice Cox and an unidentified man in the photo above
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.
Two weeks after JJ and Tylee’s remains were found on June 9, many questions in the complicated case remain unanswered.
Chilling new details about the investigation emerged last week when two probable cause affidavits linked to Lori and Chad’s arrests were unsealed.
One of the affidavits, filed the day after Chad was arrested, alleges that Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, brought the bodies to the property to bury them.
A ping from Cox’s cellphone showed him at the site where Tylee’s remains were found on September 9, the day after she was last seen.
Two later pings on September 23, the day JJ vanished, showed Cox at the site where the boy’s remains were found a few feet away in the yard.
It wasn’t until nine weeks later that Rexburg Police learned the children were missing when officers performed a welfare check at Lori’s apartment in Rexburg on November 26, after relatives said they hadn’t seen JJ in months.
During that welfare check Chad ‘acted as if he didn’t know Lori very well and stated he didn’t know her phone number’, Lt Ron Ball wrote in an affidavit.
Investigators soon discovered that was a lie when they came across photos of Chad and Lori’s wedding three weeks earlier on a beach in Hawaii.
Lori and her brother told detectives that the children were visiting relatives, which was also determined to be a lie.
She and Chad fled from Idaho to Hawaii the day after the welfare check.
The affidavits also describe how Lori complained that her ‘Satan-loving’ son JJ was ‘acting like a zombie’ and knocked a photo of Jesus off her refrigerator just hours before he vanished.
Cox mysteriously died in Gilbert, Arizona, on December 12, about a month after police began searching for the children.
An autopsy determined that the 51-year-old died of natural causes but noted that he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system at the time.
His death is one of at least three that cops began investigating in connection with the kids’ disappearance.
Lori’s estranged husband Charles Vallow was shot dead by Cox in Arizona on July 11.
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.
A couple of months later, Chad’s first wife Tammy Daybell 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.
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.
Read the probable cause affidavits for Chad and Lori’s arrests below: