Chilling details revealed as police investigate deaths of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan

The discovery of the Idaho siblings in backyard graves was the result of a complicated six-month investigation that unraveled a sordid tale of murder, greed and religious fanaticism

The Final Days of JJ and Tylee
The Final Days of JJ and Tylee 42:35

Produced by Liza Finley and Richard Fetzer:

By the time the remains of 7-year-old JJ Vallow and his 16-year-old sister Tylee Ryan were found buried in shallow graves on Chad Daybell's property in June, they had become two of the most famous missing children in America.  Everyone wanted to know what happened to them. No one wanted this. 

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"When I think of Tylee and JJ, I just think of fun and love. … They both had unconditional love for each other. … I'll always remember them like that," said Tylee's best friend Vaisia Itaaehau.   Kay Woodcock

Investigative reporter and CBS News consultant Morgan Loew has covered this story since the beginning.

Morgan Loew: What happened to those kids is … is horrendous. 

Morgan Loew: In 30 years, I've never covered a story quite like this. … this one sticks — this one is bad.

Investigators at Chad Daybell's preliminary hearing In August 2020 described — in chilling detail — finding the remains of the two children in Daybell's backyard.  JJ's grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, could barely contain their grief as they listened.

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An aerial view of Todd Daybell's backyard, where the remains of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan were found in June. AP

 
A warning: what you are about to read may be disturbing.

They started by removing a top layer of earth on a 4 foot-by-2 foot patch of grass that was shorter than the rest.

DET. RAY HERMOSILLO [in court]: They began pulling up the sod and topsoil … which revealed three large white rocks, flat rocks.

Beneath the rocks, they found thin pieces of wood paneling. Below that, a layer of black plastic.

Morgan Loew:  One of the crime scene investigators … cut a hole in the top of this plastic, and beneath the black plastic was some white plastic, like, plastic bag. And they cut through that.

ROB WOOD | Madison County/City of Rexburg Deputy Prosecuting Attorney: And what did you observe when they did that? 

DET. RAY HERMOSILLO: I observed what looked to be brown human hair.

Morgan Loew:  … the same color hair as JJ Vallow.

DET. RAY HERMOSILLO: It was what appeared to be a small body tightly wrapped in black plastic, covered in duct tape.

It was JJ.

Morgan Loew: A second team of investigators were searching — a different part of the yard. … This is an area the Daybell family called the pet cemetery.

Morgan Loew: They dug up a cat. They dug up a dog. … But as they dug further, they found some things that were strange. They found a melted bucket.

DET. RAY HERMOSILLO: Under the bucket was a partial human skull.

What turned out to be the remains of Tylee Ryan.

Morgan Loew: Because of the condition of — of Tylee's remains, it's hard to tell what happened to her. The only thing we — we can know for sure is that … At one point, whoever did this, dismembered her body and burned it.

The thought of Tylee ending up that way was almost too much for Echo Itaaehau to bear.

Jonathan Vigliott | CBS News correspondent: How did you hold it together?

Echo Itaaehau: I didn't. I didn't hold it together at all. Yeah. … I didn't hold it together at all. I'm still not holding it together.

Neither is Echo Itaaehau's daughter Vaisia, one of Tylee's best friends.

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Best friends Vaisia Itaaehau and Tylee Ryan. Vaisia Itaaehau

Vaisia Itaaehau: I just always had that hope that they were alive. … I never even considered that they weren't. 'Cause I didn't want to.

The discovery of the children in Chad Daybell's backyard was the result of a complicated six-month investigation that  unraveled a sordid tale of murder, greed and religious fanaticism —  a story that began  with their mother, Lori Vallow, who, to her friend April Raymond, was a woman who once seemed incapable of harming her own children.

April Raymond: She did everything for JJ, everything for Tylee. They were … the center of her world. And so, I'm not sure what hijacked that priority.

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Charles and Lori Vallow Kay Woodcock

April Raymond met Lori in 2015 in Hawaii.  At the time, Lori was married to businessman Charles Vallow. The couple was raising two children – Tylee, Lori's teenage daughter from a former marriage, and their adopted son JJ, the grandson of Charles's sister Kay Woodcock. JJ had autism and Lori seemed the ideal mother for him, says Raymond.

April Raymond JJ was very difficult to take care of …  So … I really admired how patient she was with him and how much care she took of him.

But it was Tylee's bond with JJ that Vaisia will always remember.

Vaisia Itaaehau: I loved being around JJ and Tylee. Tylee was really protective over JJ. … and she was kind of like another mama to him. I just kind of loved how — she would — just play with him and just always have, like, a really good time with him. … and I really love JJ. He's the sweetest soul I've ever met.

But around 2017, friends say Lori's relationships with her kids began to shift — about the time she started reading the books of Chad Daybell. Daybell was a former gravedigger-turned-novelist and podcaster from Rexburg, Idaho, who some say was something of a local cult leader, says Morgan.

Morgan Loew: He tapped into this "prepper" element out there, people who wanted to prepare for Armageddon.

Daybell was married. He and his wife Tammy had five children. He reportedly believed he had numerous past lives and could talk to angels. He also claimed he could read light and dark auras.    

Chad Daybell
Chad Daybell, a former gravedigger turned author, podcaster and doomsday prophet, was a married father of five. Facebook

Morgan Loew: Chad had this belief that some people who were on this earth weren't really the people they were supposed to be. … They were zombies. Their souls had left them. …  And — evilness took over their bodies. And the only way to release their spirits to heaven was to kill the bodies.

Sometime in 2018 Lori met Chad Daybell and spent time with him away from her family. 

Vaisia Itaaehau: She was a fan of his writing. And … when she actually got to talk with him, it, yeah, just escalated from there.

Lori started doing podcasts with Daybell and began telling people she was a supernatural being appointed by God to lead the 144,000 chosen into the millennium.

She also believed she had been appointed another, more ominous role, says Raymond.

April Raymond: Part of her mission on Earth was to eliminate the darkness, the demonic — the evil.

April Raymond says Lori told her one of those evil beings was her own husband — Charles Vallow.

April Raymond: The way she had explained it to me about Charles was that Charles was already dead. And that there was a demon living inside of him.

OFFICER DORENBUSH | Gilbert Police Department: What did she say yesterday?

CHARLES VALLOW: She said, you're not Charles. I don't know who you are, what you did with Charles.

Charles was so spooked by Lori he went to the police. Their conversation was recorded on the officer's bodycam.

CHARLES VALLOW: She thinks she's a resurrected being and a … and a god.

Morgan Loew: Charles … He was worried about his safety and the safety of his children.

OFFICER DORENBUSH: OK. So, what makes her a danger to herself and to others?

CHARLES VALLOW: She threatened me, murder me, kill me.

OFFICER DORENBUSH: She threatened to murder you?

CHARLES VALLOW: Yes.

In the winter of 2019, Charles Vallow changed the beneficiary of his $1 million life insurance policy from Lori to his sister Kay Woodcock, JJ's biological grandmother.

Charles Vallow
On January 31, 2019, Charles Vallow is seen on police bodycam video tell officers his wife had become "unhinged," and had threatened to murder him. Gilbert Police Department

After almost 13 years of marriage, Charles Vallow filed for divorce.

CHARLES VALLOW [to police officer]: She's unhinged. It scared the crap out of me.

Charles Vallow had good reason to be scared.

A DEADLY PREMONITION

By the summer of 2019, Charles Vallow had gone to the police twice claiming there was something desperately wrong with his estranged wife Lori Vallow.  

CHARLES VALLOW [to Officer Dorenbush]: She's psychologically, she's gone. Something's happened to her.

But no one acted on it and Vallow let his guard down. On the morning of July 11, he went to Lori's rental home in Chandler, Arizona, to pick up JJ and take him to school.

Morgan Loew: He goes into the house. Lori and Tylee and JJ are there, and so is Alex Cox.

Alex Cox — Lori's brother.

Morgan Loew: Alex was Lori's protector. … he never hesitated to resort to violence if he believed he was defending his sister

Within an hour of entering the house that morning, Vallow was lying on the floor in a pool of blood — shot in the chest by Alex Cox.

At 8:36 a.m. Cox calmly called 911:

911 DISPATCHER: Is he breathing?

ALEX COX: I can't tell.

Morgan Loew: He said, "I need to report a shooting. I — I shot my brother-in-law in self-defense."

911 DISPATCHER: And is he hurt? Or Is he alive, or?

ALEX COX: Yeah, there's blood. He's not moving.

The police arrived and shot video of Cox on the curb outside the home.  Alex told them Charles and Lori got into a fight.

CHANDLER POLICE OFFICER [bodycam video]: So, you get in an argument? What is it over?

ALEX COX: Well it was over my sister. He was getting physical with her.

Cox says Tylee came out of her room with a bat.

ALEX COX [bodycam]: She came out to defend my sister with her bat.

Cox said Vallow grabbed the bat from Tylee and came at him. 

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Chad Cox talks with police after shooting Charles Vallow. Chandler Police Department

ALEX COX [bodycam video]: … and he hit me in the back of the head with the bat … So, I went to my room and got my gun, 'cause I always carry it.

Cox says he came back and shot Charles Vallow dead.

Tylee, who had gone outside with JJ, and Lori, who says she was in another room – both said they heard the shooting but didn't see it. Lori later told police that she walked past Vallow on the floor — and went outside.

Morgan Loew: Lori, at that point … takes JJ to school. And she comes back later with Tylee.

The police blurred Tylee's face, because she was a minor.

POLICE OFFICER [Bodycam video]: Hi, who are – are you?  [Lori speaks] OK, just stand over there for just a second, guys.

Morgan Loew: What was striking about the footage that we saw was that … There's no remorse. There's no, "Oh, my gosh, my husband's dead."

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A smiling Lori Vallow on police bodycam video after learning her husband was dead. Chandler Police Department

POLICE OFFICER [Bodycam video]: How long have you lived here?

LORI VALLOW: Like 3 weeks.

POLICE OFFICER:  Oh geez, yeah, OK.

LORI VALLOW: That's why the neighbors don't know us very well.

POLICE OFFICER:  Gotcha.

LORI VALLOW: Like, "Hi neighbors, sorry" [laughs].

POLICE OFFICER: Are you working at all?

LORI VALLOW: No.

Lori, Alex and Tylee were questioned at the police headquarters. All told a similar stories of self-defense and were sent home.

In a troubling sign of the deception to come, Lori told a completely different story to JJ's school — Lauren's Institute for Education or LIFE.

Margaret Travillion | LIFE co-founder: Our administrator — came into my office. And she was like, "Margaret, you're not gonna believe this. Lori just told us that Charles committed suicide last week."... I can only say it didn't feel right.

They Googled Charles Vallow's name and learned the truth.

Margaret Travillion: It just didn't make any sense … why would you tell us he committed suicide last week and he's been gone for two weeks and he was actually shot by your brother? What is — what is happening?

A month later, Lori told them she got a new job in California, and sent an email saying she was taking JJ out of school.

Jonathan Vigliotti: What did you think when you read that email?

Margaret Travillion: That …  it made sense. … They wanted to start over. They wanted to start fresh.

It was a fresh start all right, but not in California. Around September 1, 2019, Lori, Tylee and JJ moved into a town home in Rexburg, Idaho — not far from where Chad Daybell lived with his wife, Tammy. Lori's brother, Alex Cox, the man she considered her protector, moved into the same complex.

Morgan Loew: Lori sort of viewed Alex as the destroyer of bad things in her eyes … he was there to take care of the problems.

It appears the first problem was a 16-year-old girl: Tylee Ryan.

Morgan Loew: We know that in the spring of 2019, Lori started referring to Tylee as a zombie, to at least one of her close friends.

One of those close friends was April Raymond.

April Raymond: And she had described Tylee as having a dark spirit.

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JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan at Yellowstone National Park on September 8, 2019. At right is their mother's brother Alex Cox.  FBI

Tylee spent what's believed to be the last day of her life at Yellowstone National Park with Lori, JJ and Alex. Investigators were able to piece together what happened after this photo was taken thanks to Alex Cox.  His cell phone left a digital map.

Around 6:45 p.m. that evening, they left Yellowstone and drove back to the apartment complex in Rexburg.

Morgan Loew: That night, we know Alex was in his own apartment. And then … Police tracked his cell phone to Lori's apartment at 2:45 in the morning on September 9th. He's there for a couple of hours. Then he goes back to his apartment, and then, after 9 in the morning, his cell phone appears … in Chad Daybell's backyard.

Morgan Loew: He was at that property for over two hours that morning.

At 11:53 a.m., after Alex Cox left the backyard, Chad Daybell wrote a text to his wife Tammy who wasn't home explaining why there was a new grave in the pet cemetery.

That message reads in part, "Well, I've had an interesting morning ... I spotted a big raccoon along the fence. I hurried and got my gun ... One shot did the trick. He is now in our pet cemetery. Fun times."

That pet cemetery just behind a bush where investigators found the charred remains of Tylee Ryan.

The big sister who used to watch over her little brother was no longer there to protect him.

THE WIDOWER AND THE WIDOW

If there is a picture book that captures the JJ Vallow educators at LIFE school came to love, Margaret Travillion says it's this one: "Wherever you are my love will find you."

Margaret Travillion [reading aloud] "If you're working or playing or sitting with friends you can [cries] dance til you're dizzy."  And JJ loved dancing. "Paint til you're blue." And JJ loved blue. "There's no place, not one, that my love can't find you."

JJ Vallow
JJ Vallow LIFE

JJ's teacher Julia Allen says he made a big impression in a small amount of time.

Julia Allen: He was a spitfire, for sure. He had a lot of energy. When JJ was there, you knew he was there.

When the little boy who loved to dance first came to LIFE, a school for special needs students, he was a very different child than when he left, says Travillion.

Margaret Travillion: And I literally remember coming into the classroom in the beginning and him just being … very closed off … To … the later part of him being with us, just to "Miss Margaret" (chuckles).

Margaret Travillion: And just — that growth of watching him come out of himself — was just wonderful. … and It was just the beginning.

Margaret Travillion: I just get so angry. 'Cause he had so much possibility. And — so much potential. And he had so much love- - so much love.

All that potential, all that love gone. Wiped out in late September 2019 — roughly two weeks after the big sister he adored disappeared.

Melanie Gibb and her boyfriend David Warwick, both of whom testified at Daybell's hearing, were staying with Lori in Rexburg the last weekend of JJ's life. They saw him several times during their stay.

ROB WOOD [in court]: Where was he located when you saw him?

MELANIE GIBB: He was in the family room mostly, and then outside some.

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Melanie Gibb, left, and Lori Daybell

 

Sometime between 9 p.m. and midnight on September 22, the last night of their visit, Lori, Melanie and David were in the kitchen doing a religious podcast when Alex Cox appeared.

MELANIE GIBB: He brought JJ into the house during the middle of the podcast.

ROB WOOD: How did Alex Cox bring JJ into the house?

MELANIE GIBB: He carried him in, and he was asleep.

Gibb and Warwick testified that Cox put JJ to bed in Lori's room. But the little boy was nowhere to be seen the next morning. Lori explained why.

DAVID WARWICK: She said that he was being a zombie and climbed up on the cabinets, climbed up on top of the fridge, smashed her picture of Christ down, and then climbed up onto the upper cabinets and got between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling.

ROB WOOD: OK. And then what did she tell you?

DAVID WARWICK: I asked to see him, and she just said that he was out of control, so she had Alex come and get him

Police learned what happened to JJ by once again following Alex Cox's cell phone. At 9:55 a.m. on September 23, 2019, Cox returned to Chad Daybell's backyard. But this time he was only there for 17 minutes.

Chad Daybell
"Chad Daybell was a gravedigger for a profession when he was younger. That's an awful coincidence ," reporter Morgan Loew said of the children's bodies being found buried in Daybell's backyard. Julie Rowe

Morgan Loew: Somehow, in 17 minutes, there was a grave dug and filled in. That's not possible. Somebody else must have helped with that. This is Chad Daybell's backyard. Chad Daybell was a grave digger for a profession when he was younger. That's an awful coincidence …

At Chad Daybell's preliminary hearing, Detective Ray Hermosillo testified the child was covered head to toe in duct tape.

DET. RAY HERMOSILLO: He had duct tape continuously wrapped from elbow all the way around his arms, over his hands, all the way to his right elbow.

Morgan Loew: Why do you bind somebody's feet and hands and mouth in duct tape? You do it to keep them from — yelling or talking. The way they found that body leads you to believe that JJ was still alive … Because you don't go through all that trouble to somebody who's already dead.

It's the last moments of the children's lives that keeps Echo up at night.

Echo Itaaehau [in tears]: I just can't bear the thought of Tylee being scared and JJ being scared or know — or knowing what was happening and by who. I just can't bear that thought.

By the end of September 2019, Lori had a dead husband, Charles Vallow, and though no one yet knew it, two dead children.

Now the cold glare of death would shift focus to Chad Daybell's family. 

Roughly one month after JJ's death, Chad's 49-year-old wife Tammy Daybell, died mysteriously in her sleep.

Two-and-a-half weeks later, the widower and the merry widow wed in Hawaii. Benjamin Hyde has known Chad Daybell since the two men were missionaries together when they were 19.

Jonathan Vigliotti: What went on in your mind when, weeks after Tammy died, Chad and Lori get married?

Benjamin Hyde: That was the number one thing that told me something was horribly wrong …

Two weeks after she died, he gets remarried? That was such a huge red flag to me.

Jonathan Vigliotti: What did you think when you saw the photos of Chad and Lori … in Hawaii, the ukulele in hand … all smiles.

Benjamin Hyde: That gives me the willies, look at this! … that's a real thing. It is horrifying!

But the horror was just beginning to unfold.   

THE WORLD FINDS OUT THE CHILDREN ARE MISSING

Chad Daybell and Lori' Vallow's hula dancing days were numbered. Soon after the newlyweds returned to Rexburg from Hawaii, JJ's grandmother, Kay Woodcock, sounded the alarm.

Morgan Loew: Every time, Kay Woodcock, would call, there would be a different excuse about where the kids were. … And finally. She had heard enough excuses. She finally reached out to the police.

On November 26, 2019, two months after JJ was last seen, Rexburg Police came knocking on Lori's door – looking for the little boy.

POLICE OFFICER [bodycam audio]: So, we're here —

LORI VALLOW: Wow, this is a big mess, I just talked to the guy on the phone.

The court released an audio-only version of that conversation. Lori goes from saying people are out to get her – "I just feel like I'm being tracked all the time. I'm like, 'why are police coming my door?'" – to that big life insurance payout Kay Woodcock got from Charles Vallow.

LORI VALLOW: My husband … switched his life insurance policy to her right? … To his sister. … Who got a million dollars when he died. And we got nothing for me to raise JJ.

Lori finally gets around to JJ.

LORI VALLOW: He's in Arizona.

LT. RON BALL | Rexburg Police Department: Who's he with in Arizona?

LORI VALLOW: He's with one of my friends in Arizona.

RON BALL: Who's the friend he's with?

LORI VALLOW: My friend Melanie.

Police called that friend in Arizona, Melanie Gibb, to verify Lori's story, but she did not respond to their call. When the police returned to Lori's home, she embellished her story even more.          

LORI VALLOW: Well, they were going to "Frozen "2 today, so they may be at the movies.

UNIDENTFIED PERSON #1: Could you get a hold of her at some point and say, "Can you please call back the officer that's been trying to call you?"

LORI VALLOW: OK, sure. Because I think they are at the movies right now.

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Melanie Gibb testified, "She asked me just to pick up my phone and … take a picture of random kids to make it look like it was JJ." Pool/Court TV

In court, Melanie Gibb described getting a call from Lori asking her to back up the "Frozen" story:

MELANIE GIBB: … and that she told the police that I had JJ, that I was at a movie called "Frozen," that she asked me just to pick up my phone and take a picture, random picture of kids running around.

ROB WOOD: What did she ask you to do with that, again?

MELANIE GIBB: Take a picture of random kids to make it look like it was JJ.

Lori told Gibb she was hiding JJ because he was in danger. And his grandmother Kay Woodcock was the threat. 

ROB WOOD: OK, what did she say about Kay?

MELANIE GIBB: She said that Kay was trying to kidnap JJ.

ROB WOOD:     After (unintelligible) these phone calls, how did that make you feel?

MELANIE GIBB: Horrible. I felt in shock. I was not OK with it because she told something to the police that was not true … So, I was — I had a really bad feeling in my stomach, and I felt very shooken [sic] up by it.

So, shook up, she called Lori and Chad 12 days later and secretly recorded it.

CHAD DAYBELL phone call]: Hello, sweet Melanie.

MELANIE GIBB: Hi Chad. Hey Lori. How are you guys?

LORI VALLOW: We're OK. How are you doing, babe?

MELANIE: I'm doing pretty good, thanks.

Morgan Loew: That taped phone conversation is when you can hear Chad and Lori go from, "Oh, yeah, everything's great," to that change where, "OK we've got a problem here."

MELANIE GIBB: Is JJ safe?

LORI VALLOW: He is safe and happy

MELANIE GIBB: I'm just worried for you guys because, you know, he's missing and, you know ...

LORI VALLOW: I know exactly where he is. He's perfectly fine.

Morgan Loew: I think what Lori didn't bank on was that Melanie had a conscience and Melanie was really worried about what happened.

LORI VALLOW: I don't know why you're being controversial to me or if you're recording this conversation for the police or whatever. I don't know what your intention is on this phone call. But I love you with all my heart, and I have forever, and I will always love you.

MELANIE GIBB: I appreciate those words, but if you really love me, you wouldn't have told the police that I had JJ with me. That's not — that's not what a friend does.

Lori Vallow Daybell and JJ Valalow
Lori Vallow-Daybell and JJ Vallow at  Yellowstone National Park on September 8, 2019. FBI

Gibb handed that secret recording to authorities, and investigators launched a nationwide search – but not just for JJ. It was then that they realized his sister Tylee was also missing

Morgan Loew: Everybody was hoping in the back of their minds that maybe there was a chance the kids were alive.

Back then, the only two people who didn't seem concerned were Lori and Chad. Instead of helping search, they skipped off to another vacation back in Hawaii.

Morgan Loew: They're in this Hawaii vacation. It's like not a care in the world.

Reality and justice were not far behind. Police in Hawaii searched Lori's rental car looking for evidence of the kids. And on January 25, 2020, she was formally served an order to produce Tylee and JJ within five days. She ignored it and was arrested on the island of Kauai on child abandonment charges. Chad showed his support in the courtroom as Lori was extradited to Rexburg, Idaho.

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"Where are your kids? How come you're not telling anybody where your kids are?" investigative reporter Morgan Loew asks Lori Vallow Daybell on March 5, 2020, as she was extradited from Hawaii to Rexburg, Idaho, to face child abandonment charges. 

With Lori now in jail, Chad Daybell returned home.

Morgan Loew: I don't know that regular people could begin to understand how he could live in that house … All the while those kids were buried 50 feet away in the backyard.

Soon his secret was out. Police had followed Alex's Cox's cellphone data to the children's graves, and on June 9, 2020, Chad Daybell was arrested.

But what about the man who led them to Daybell's backyard? Alex Cox, Lori's brother, incredibly, had also died. He dropped dead six months before JJ and Tylee were found.

Morgan Loew: The medical examiner performed an autopsy on Alex Cox and found that he died of natural causes. … And with Alex Cox went a whole incredible amount of potential information that investigators could've used on this case.

Lori and Chad Daybell were charged with the same crime: conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. But not everyone believes they played equal parts. Some believe Chad Daybell was the driving force; others believe it was Lori.

Jonathan Vigliotti: Lori hasn't been convicted of anything yet. Do you think she played an active role in the deaths of her children?

April Raymond: I feel like it's difficult to conceive of a scenario where she didn't. … It just seems very unlikely. The evidence of course will speak for itself. … I can't conceive of a scenario where she wasn't involved.

SAYING GOODBYE

While JJ was missing, no one at his old school spoke his name — as if that somehow made it less real. They tied yellow ribbons around the trees and waited for his return.

Then came the news that he was never coming back. 

Margaret Travillion | LIFE co-founder: I just started crying [cries]. They just — I really thought he was comin' home

Julia Allen | JJ's teacher: there was this feeling at LIFE when the remains were found. Kind of a heaviness on the campus. Because so many people were affected. It — it was in every classroom, in every environment.

After months of silence, they started speaking JJ's name … and couldn't stop. 

Margaret Travillion: Because … he was amazing. And we're grateful that we were chosen to share and to be part of his life for the time that … we did. And now … we're gonna talk about it. We're going to do it for JJ.

The whole school turned out to celebrate the little boy who loved to dance.

Margaret Travillion: We're gonna … talk about JJ dancing in heaven. Because, by golly, he has to be dancing in heaven.

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One of the many tributes to JJ and Tylee. Dee Ann Carter

It was one of many tributes to the two lost children. Tylee's friend Vaisia posted a kaleidoscope of memories online.

Vaisia Itaaehau: She took beautiful pictures, so we would just go to the beach and just take pictures … and kind of capture certain moments … She was just so clever and always just like really quick comebacks, like so witty. There were so many times that I would die laughing.

April Raymond traveled from Utah to Rexburg, Idaho, where it all began.

April Raymond: There were people from all walks of life at that memorial … And it didn't really matter our differences, but we were all there for Tylee and JJ.

While family, friends and strangers mourned the loss of Tylee and JJ, the children's mother and her new husband sat in jail awaiting trial on those conspiring to destroy, alter or conceal evidence charges.

Morgan Loew: And what's infuriating to the people who follow this case is that there's nobody charged with any of these deaths. Nobody's charged with murder

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Lori and Chad Daybell were charged with conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. No one has been charged with murder of JJ and Tylee. Rexburg Police Department

Chad Daybell's old friend Benjamin Hyde is afraid they never will be.

Benjamin Hyde: I'm afraid that Alex … was the trigger man … and Alex is already dead, so how are they gonna prosecute Chad and Lori? I am horrified that law enforcement isn't gonna be able to find … anything to tie 'em to this. That terrifies me.

Jonathan Vigliotti: Do you think there's a chance that Chad and Lori will walk free? And all of this will be blamed on Alex? A dead man?

April Raymond: I think it will definitely be — an attempt by their defense attorneys. But I just can't conceive of a scenario where it's plausible that they had no involvement. Alex had nothing to gain from any of this other than pleasing Lori or pleasing Chad.

"48 Hours" reached out to Chad and Lori's attorneys to ask whether their clients had some involvement in the children's deaths. Lori's attorney had no comment and Chad's attorney did not respond.

But the questions don't stop there.

The body of Chad's wife, Tammy Daybell, has been exhumed and investigators are now calling her death suspicious. Authorities in Arizona are also investigating the shooting death of Lori's former husband, Charles Vallow.

Morgan Loew: It appears that Chandler Police believe Lori had something to do with Charles's death. They are investigating her for conspiracy to commit murder.

Despite all of Lori's talk about demons inhabiting Charles's body, Morgan Loew says her motive may have been more mundane: money.

Morgan Loew: We know that shortly after Charles's death, Lori tried to claim that life insurance policy … he had changed the beneficiary to his sister. We know that Lori was angry about that.

So angry she was still talking about it when the Rexburg police first came to her door looking for JJ.

Morgan Loew: It's hard to discount the idea that a million-dollar life insurance policy would be a motive for a murder.

But that doesn't explain the children.

Jonathan Vigliotti: Why do you think the children were murdered?

April Raymond: I feel like they were a liability. Especially Tylee was a liability for what she knew.

Remember, Tylee was there the day Charles Vallow was killed. At the time, she went along with the self-defense story, but could she have changed her mind?

April Raymond: I feel like whatever story we were given about how Charles was killed was not the truth. And that Tylee knew the truth. And Lori thought/ that was a liability….

In the end, Chad and Lori's belief in evil may prove to be true. But they got one thing wrong. Authorities believe it is was they who embraced the darkness. And the children who embraced the light.

Margaret Travillion: They say it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a community to raise one of our children and JJ had a community. And he had so many people that loved him and — wanted him.

vallow-kids.jpg
Tylee and JJ Kay Woodcock

April Raymond: Tylee had a network of people that really did love her, and I don't know if she knew that. I wish that she had known that there were people that really loved her. Even if her mother didn't [cries].

Vaisia Itaaehau: If I had one more day with JJ and Tylee, I would want them to know how much they did for me. … And just let them know that I love them, and I've never met anyone like them. And I'll always remember them like that.

If found guilty of the conspiracy charges, Chad Daybell faces up to 20 years in prison, and Lori Vallow faces up to 10 years in prison. 

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    Jonathan Vigliotti is a CBS News foreign correspondent based in London.