discovering My Grandchildren’s Killer

ultimate fall, authorities begun a nationwide search for 7-year-historical Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and 17-yr-ancient Tylee Ryan, who mysteriously vanished from their small town of Rexburg, Idaho. within the months after they went missing, the case became increasingly more complex—and weird.

This summer, police found the is still of J.J. and Tylee buried on the rural farm of Chad Daybell, who is married to the babies’s mom Lori Vallow (she is Tylee’s organic mother and J.J.’s adoptive mom). no person has been charged in connection to their deaths, however Daybell and Vallow are each watching for court docket hearings on legal prices of conspiracy to conceal evidence, in line with a crook grievance got through ELLE.com.

forward of their 2021 trials, Investigation Discovery is premiering Doomsday: The missing children (obtainable to flow January 4th on Discovery+), a revealing new documentary that includes interviews with J.J.’s grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock. below, Kay opens up to ELLE.com about her persevered experience to locate justice for Tylee and J.J.


This time final yr, I still had hope J.J. turned into alive. My 7-year-ancient grandson and his 17-year-historical sister, Tylee, hadn’t been considered in months, but i wouldn’t allow myself to suppose the worst. I couldn’t—no longer until there become proof otherwise.

or not it’s a Christmas lifestyle in our family to supply all of the grandkids a brand new set of pajamas. So my husband Larry and i picked out a distinct blue pair with glow-in-the-darkish sharks for J.J., simply in case he changed into found and brought lower back domestic in time to open presents.

Christmas got here and went, and J.J.’s reward sat in our living room unopened. Then, six months later, we acquired the proof we crucial however certainly not wanted: Tylee and J.J.’s bodies were found out.

I used to are looking to be aware of all the particulars about what came about. The hows and whos and, most significantly, the whys. Now i am okay no longer understanding, as a result of I don’t consider I may reside with the certainty if I did. What happened to Tylee and J.J. changed into so horrific, so evil, that some days it nonetheless doesn’t seem real.

no person has been held responsible yet, however i’ll do whatever it takes to make sure their killer stays behind bars for life.

family photo kay, jj and larry at a restaurant
Kay and Larry Woodcock with J.J. in July 2018.

Courtesy Kay Woodcock

The final voicemail I actually have from J.J. is short and sweet. Most nights I nod off taking note of it: “hello! here is J.J. i used to be just calling to say i love you. okay, acquired to head. Bye!”

When he changed into taken from us, J.J. became basically coming into his personal. His feel of humor bought sillier by the day, and he loved to study. His all-time favourite publication changed into Ten Little Monkeys leaping on the bed. every photograph I took of him became out blurry, as a result of he turned into invariably running, swimming, and using his bike around the neighborhood. When he obtained tired, he watched YouTube video clips of planes taking off. He would have made a good pilot someday. He changed into so fearless.

friend photo tylee and tylee’s friend vaisia wearing caps
Kay describes Tylee, above, as a “spitfire.”

Courtesy Kay Woodcock

Tylee was a spitfire. She adored dancing and performing and taking part in piano. She was sharp and quick-witted, all the time first rate for a sassy comeback or a witty shaggy dog story. When my brother, Charles, and his spouse Lori, Tylee’s mom, legally adopted J.J. from my son, Tylee fell in love with him correct away. i’ll under no circumstances overlook J.J.’s fourth party, once they filled up water balloons together and took purpose at every little thing in sight.

For many years, they appeared like a cheerful family. It wasn’t until 2018 that Charles instructed us Lori become acting atypical. Larry and that i do not like to be nosy, but it surely got to the element where we realized, “ok, some thing bizarre have to be occurring.”

On July 11, 2019, we obtained a name that Charles had been discovered dead on the ground of their home in Phoenix, Arizona. Police formally announced that Tylee and J.J. were missing 5 months later.

[Editor’s observe: Charles Vallow turned into shot and killed with the aid of Lori Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, who claimed it became in “self-protection.” Alex turned into certainly not charged and later died of herbal explanations, in response to NBC information. J.J. and Tylee have been photographed collectively with Lori and Alex while he became nonetheless alive in September at Yellowstone countrywide Park, in response to the FBI. by the time police began searching into their disappearances in December, Lori had remarried a man named Chad Daybell. at the time, Lori and Chad refused to cooperate with an investigation, based on a statement released by way of Rexburg Police.]

family photo young jj on bike and charles vallow
Charles Vallow with J.J., whom Kay describes as “always operating, swimming, and driving his bike across the regional.”

Courtesy Kay Woodcock


i would on no account been so scared in my existence. I prayed they were each alive. possibly they’d long gone off the grid? Or gotten misplaced? This could sound crazy, but I basically hoped they’d joined a cult, because as a minimum that would suggest they had been nevertheless respiration.

Larry and i did media interviews and provided a fiscal reward for counsel. Our love for J.J. and Tylee even drove us to do our own investigating. We traveled the country speakme with Lori’s neighbors, investigators, police, and the FBI. but the greater we found out, the extra perplexing all of it became. the place have been the youngsters? Who would kidnap them?

And why wasn’t Lori cooperating with police?

kay alone at a press conference in rexburg after lori missed the deadline to produce her children
Kay, above at a 2019 press conference, offered a fiscal reward for tips on J.J. and Tylee’s whereabouts.

Courtesy Kay Woodcock

Days passed with out a updates, and i all started to lose hope. back then, i thought the worst part of this endless nightmare become the not-understanding. Then Larry and that i acquired the call. It become June 9, 2020, and an FBI agent told us they were browsing the home of Lori’s new husband Chad with cadaver canines and floor search device.

What they found made me sick to my belly. It become extra horrifying than the rest we could have ever imagined. i used to be so incorrect in regards to the “not knowing.” This—this—became the worst part of our unending nightmare.


every person talks about “closure.” I consider closure is relative to the adult experiencing trauma or grief. everybody has their own method of accepting and coping with a circumstance, chiefly when it’s whatever like this. After giving J.J. and Tylee a proper burial in Idaho, i ended having nightmares. however there is nonetheless so tons to do when it comes to getting justice.

lori at her bond reduction hearing of 362020
Lori Vallow at her first court performing in Rexburg, Idaho.

Courtesy Discovery identification

[Editor’s word: nobody has been charged with the deaths of J.J. and Tylee. both Lori and Chad are presently in custody in Idaho looking forward to court hearings on separate prison charges of conspiracy to hide, ruin, or alter evidence, in keeping with crook complaints obtained by ELLE.com. they have got pleaded no longer responsible.]

q4, we had two hurricanes in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the place Larry and i reside. in case you’ve ever evacuated your home all through a herbal catastrophe, you know the drill: grab your valuables and get out. For me, that included J.J.’s shark pajamas—these blue, glow-in-the-dark ones we in no way gave him. “I’ve already lost J.J.,” i assumed to myself. “I cannot lose these, too.”

Larry and i have because relocated to a brand new home—a fresh start of kinds for us. J.J.’s pajamas had been the first factor I unpacked when we moved. Now they hang up in my closet where i will see them every day.

This interview has been flippantly edited and condensed for clarity.


group of workers creator Rose is a personnel creator at ELLE.com overlaying lifestyle, information, and girls’s issues.

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