Authorities on Wednesday confirmed they uncovered two sets of children's remains at an Idaho man's home as they investigated the. The case has drawn global attention, in part due to links to two other mysterious deaths and the couple's doomsday beliefs.
In a press release, the Rexburg Police Department said the family had been notified that two sets of unidentified human remains had been found. They said autopsy results were pending.
In a statement released Wednesday, the children's grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock and Colby and Kelsee Ryan, said the remains are indeed those of their missing grandchildren — Joshua "JJ" Vallow, who was 7 when he vanished, and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan.
"We are filled with unfathomable sadness that these two bright stars were stolen from us, and only hope that they died without pain or suffering," the statement reads. "Once officially confirmed, statements from The Rexburg Police, The Medical Examiner and the FBI will be released. We ask that you respect our family's privacy while we grieve — we have only just been told of the loss of our loved ones and need time to process."
Chad Daybell, who is married to the missing children's mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, wasafter local and federal investigators searched his property, according to the Fremont County Sheriff's Office.
JJ and Tylee haven't been seen since September. Police say Chad and Lori Daybell lied to investigators about the children's whereabouts before quietly leaving Idaho. The couple turned up in Hawaii months later.
Besides the missing children, the couple has been under scrutiny following the deaths of both of their former spouses.
Chad Daybell appeared via video before a judge Wednesday. Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood requested Daybell be held on a $1 million bail because he said Daybell is accused of hiding children's remains.
Wood said the way one of the sets of remains was concealed was "particularly egregious." He did not provide details, saying documents in the case have been sealed. Wood also said he believes Daybell is a flight risk.
A lawyer for Daybell said the bail should reflect the charge he faces and that Daybell intends to stay in the community and address the charges. A judge agreed to set bail at $1 million and ordered Daybell to stay in the immediate area and wear an ankle monitor.
Police from the small town of Rexburg, the FBI and sheriff's investigators searched Daybell's home in the eastern Idaho town of Salem for the second time, bringing in backhoes and setting up tents in a nearby field. The search warrant is sealed, and Rexburg Assistant Police Chief Gary Hagan said he couldn't reveal details other than the search is linked to the children's disappearance.
"Throughout the investigation, detectives and investigators have recovered what's believed to be human remains that have not been identified at this time," Hagan said in a news conference.
Lori Daybell has been charged with child abandonment and obstructing the investigation and is in jail on $1 million bond. She's pleaded not guilty. The Idaho attorney general's office has said it was investigating Chad Daybell in the death of his first wife, Tammy Daybell.
The complicated case began last summer, when Lori Daybell's brother shot and killed her estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in Phoenix. Her brother, Alex Cox, said the shooting was in self-defense. Charles Vallow had filed for divorce, claiming Lori believed she had become a god-like figure who was responsible for ushering in the biblical end times. Cox died in December of an apparent blood clot in his lung.
Shortly after Charles Vallow's death, Lori and her children moved to Idaho, where Chad Daybell lived. He ran a small publishing company, where he published many of his own fiction books that centered on apocalyptic scenarios loosely based on Mormon theology. He also participated in podcasts about preparing for biblical end times, and friends said he claimed to be able to receive visions from "beyond the veil."
Tylee was last seen in September headed into Yellowstone National Park with her mom and other family for a day trip, and JJ was last seen by school officials several days later.
Police began investigating the children's whereabouts after relatives raised concerns. Investigators have said both Chad and Lori Daybell claimed the children were staying with friends.
Tammy Daybell 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, and they had Tammy Daybell's body exhumed in December. The results of that autopsy have not been released.
Law enforcement officers searched Chad Daybell's home initially on January 3 in connection with his first wife's death, removing more than 40 items including several pieces of computer equipment.
A few days later, the Kay and Larry Woodcock announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the kids. They later asked a judge to give them custody of JJ, who was still missing. And they have pushed to keep a spotlight on the search, posting billboards and updating social media on the case.
In an earlier statement released to East Idaho News, Kay and Larry Woodcock said they were in touch throughout the day with law enforcement.
"We were notified that law enforcement had discovered human remains on the property," the statement said. "This is obviously a very difficult time for our family, and we ask that you respect our privacy as we wait further news with heavy hearts."
Their attorney in the custody case didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.