Lori Vallow's mother and sister speak out for the first time

Lori Vallow's family defends her innocence
Lori Vallow's family defends her innocence 03:05

Lori Vallow's mother and sister are publicly defending her for the first time as the Idaho mother faces charges over the apparent disappearance of her children, Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow. Vallow was charged with two counts of felony abandonment, but her mother, Janis Cox, claimed she spoke with JJ after he reportedly disappeared. 

"She's invested her whole life in those children," Cox told CBS News' Jonathan Vigliotti. "So we know there's another whole side to this. We don't know what it is. But we know her." 

Vallow has yet to enter a plea in the high-profile case.

"I have to see my family slaughtered on the news every day," her sister, Summer Shiflet, said. "This mob mentality of calling for… Lori to just be hung in a public square, basically is what it feels like." 

Tylee and JJ disappeared in September 2019, shortly after they moved to Rexburg, Idaho from Arizona. 

Authorities say 17-year-old Tylee was last seen hiking in Yellowstone National Park with her family on September 8. 

According to investigators, 7-year-old JJ vanished without a trace on September 23 — but Cox claims she briefly spoke with him on October 1.

"I talked to him," she said. "He just takes the phone, you know, and he knows — you know, he knows who we are." 

Rexburg police declined to comment on Cox's claim that she spoke with JJ after his apparent disappearance. Cox provided CBS News with a phone bill she says shows the alleged call.

The same fall the children disappeared, Vallow married her fifth husband, Chad Daybell. Daybell's wife, Tammy Daybell, died just weeks before. Idaho's attorney general is investigating Daybell and Vallow for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in Tammy Daybell's death.

The couple was arrested in Hawaii in February, and authorities brought Vallow back to Idaho where she is being held on a $1 million bond.

Despite the couple's apparent move to Hawaii without JJ and Tylee, Cox said Vallow "never" expressed resentment for her children. 

Both Cox and Shiflet believe the two kids are still alive.

Asked about whether she ever approached Vallow about the whereabouts of the kids, Shiflet replied, "She can't tell us." 

"She's in jail. She's not — everything's recorded. So she's not gonna tell us, she can't discuss anything about the case," Shiflet said.

Cox said she firmly believes that JJ and Tylee are alive. 

"I'm positive beyond any doubt that she hasn't harmed those kids," she said.