A prosecutor in the case of the two missing Idaho children confirmed Wednesday that the human remains found on the property of Chad Daybell are the remains of children.
Extended family members of both children have said the bodies belong to the missing children – Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan – according to a joint statement published by Phoenix television station KSAZ-TV and EastIdahoNews.com.
Authorities have not yet confirmed the identities of the two sets of human remains found Tuesday while executing a search warrant at Daybell's house and said autopsies were pending.
"We are aware that those remains are the remains of children," prosecutor Rob Wood said at an initial hearing Wednesday.
JJ and Tylee have been missing since September, and Daybell's arrest Tuesday on suspicion of concealing, altering or destroying evidence is the latest twist in the bizarre case that spans multiple states, suspicious death investigations and allegations of cult-like religious beliefs.
Daybell is the new husband of Lori Vallow who was arrested in February in Hawaii after she failed to meet a court-ordered deadline to bring her children to authorities in Rexburg, Idaho. Vallow has pleaded not guilty to child abandonment and other charges and remains in custody.
JJ was last seen at his school in September and Tylee in photos from a family visit to Yellowstone National Park earlier that month, authorities have said. Daybell and Vallow, who both have allegedly lied to authorities in the course of the investigation, have former spouses who have died in recent months.
Here's what we know about the case:
Are the human remains found the missing children?
Authorities have not said whether the remains found at Daybell's house were those of JJ and Tylee.
At Wednesday's hearing, Wood argued for a $1 million bail for Daybell, which the judge ultimately granted. Wood confirmed the remains were of children and said the alleged manner of concealment for one set of the remains was particularly disturbing without going into detail.
"This is the beginning of an investigation into the deaths of children who were found on his property," Wood added.
In court documents filed Wednesday, Daybell was formally charged with two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence, each charge carrying a punishment up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
The documents allege Daybell concealed or aided in concealing human remains on or between dates that line up with when JJ and Tylee went missing and today.
Daybell's attorney, John Prior, argued for a lower bail to be set at $50,000 for each charge. Judge Faren Eddins required that, if Daybell meets the $1 million bail, he also wear an ankle monitor and stay within the immediate area in Idaho, among other conditions.
In a statement to East Idaho News on Tuesday following Daybell's arrest, JJ's biological grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, 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."
Daybell's arrest is just the latest turn in the winding case that became public in December when the Rexburg Police Department said JJ and Tylee had been missing for months and could be in danger. Daybell and his new wife, Lori Vallow, were persons of interest who had lied to investigators and could not be located, police said.
According to court documents, Daybell and Vallow had fled to Hawaii, where they had married in a beachfront ceremony weeks before.
However, JJ and Tylee were nowhere to be seen at the time of the ceremony, which came weeks after Daybell's wife of 30 years died under what police later said were suspicious circumstances.
A father of five of his own children, Daybell is a self-published author of many apocalyptic, doomsday books, and friends and family say he and Vallow adhere to divergent religious beliefs.
In an autobiography, Daybell described near-death experiences, deep connection with a spiritual world and visions of "the decline and downfall of the United States" and an "upcoming foreign invasion of America."
"I don’t know when an earthquake will come, but I have seen in vision the damage it will cause. I hope we still have a few years before it strikes, but it would be best to be prepared if it comes sooner," Daybell wrote.
Most recently in Vallow's criminal case, an Idaho judge denied her request for reduced bail. Vallow, who says she prefers to be called Lori Daybell, faces charges of felony child desertion, resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court.
The Idaho attorney general agreed to investigate her and Daybell in April.
Vallow was arrested Feb. 20 in Hawaii and later extradited to Idaho.
Lori Vallow denied reduced bail:What else is happening with the bizarre case, missing kids?
Both JJ and Tylee were last seen in September, but it wasn't until late December that the public was alerted. JJ's biological grandmother, Kay Woodcock, told police that she hadn't heard from the child in months.
Police say JJ, whose 8th birthday was in May, was last seen Sept. 23 when his mother told his Rexburg school he'd no longer be attending. Tylee, 17, was last seen Sept. 8 in Yellowstone National Park with her mother, brother and late uncle.
JJ was adopted by Lori Vallow and her late ex-husband, Charles Vallow, in 2014. The boy was born to Woodcock's son, and Kay, who is Charles Vallow's sister, initially cared for him with her husband, Larry.
JJ was diagnosed with autism, and the Woodcocks said they were busy running a business, so the Vallows offered to adopt the child. Old videos Woodcock shared on social media show the boy singing into a microphone on a tour bus and gleefully playing with toys.
Tylee welcomed the role of big sister when Joshua was adopted.
"Tylee kind of turned into like a second mom in a sense to JJ, started taking care of him," Colby Ryan, Lori Vallow's eldest son, previously told KSAZ-TV.
A string of suspicious deaths tied to Vallow and Daybell
When Daybell's wife, Tammy, was found dead in October, police initially believed it was due to natural causes as Daybell said she died in her sleep. But police exhumed her remains in December and said the circumstances "may be suspicious."
In July, Charles Vallow, Lori's ex-husband and adoptive father of JJ, arrived in Arizona where she and her children had been living.
Police in Chandler said Lori's brother, Alex Cox, called 911 and said he shot Charles Vallow after an argument between Charles and Lori broke out.
Cox claimed self-defense, but on an NBC "Dateline" special, detectives said details in Cox's and Lori Vallow's stories did not add up and they exhibited strange behavior not typical of family members whose relative had just died.
Kay Woodcock told "Dateline" her brother was not a violent man, but Cox said Charles Vallow struck him with a baseball bat.
Chandler police had an open homicide investigation into the incident, but no arrests were made.
In December, Cox was found unresponsive in Arizona. An autopsy report released in May said that Cox died from a pulmonary blood clot. Police in Gilbert said at the time detectives investigating his death would review the autopsy report and that the case was still active.
What are the 'doomsday' beliefs that Vallow and Daybell allegedly have?
In divorce filings, Charles Vallow said Lori Vallow believed she was "a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ's second coming in July 2020."
But by all accounts, Lori and Charles Vallow had a typical family before. "They were just this bustling, busy family," Woodcock told "Dateline." Woodcock said her brother and sister-in-law had their lives "built around" the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The family lived in the Phoenix area for years, at one point relocating to Hawaii for two years. But around 2019, things changed, and Vallow began delving deeper into divergent, "prepper" beliefs, friends and family told "Dateline."
In Charles Vallow's divorce filings, he said that Lori Vallow said she would kill him if he got in her way and that she had "an angel there to help her dispose of the body." Shortly after her alleged threats, Charles took out an order of protection against Lori Vallow, according to court documents.
Charles claimed that Lori Vallow had "become infatuated and, at times, obsessive about near-death experiences and spiritual visions."
According to East Idaho News, Vallow and Chad Daybell first appeared on a podcast together almost a year before the children were announced missing.
Contributing: Joel Shannon, Chelsea Curtis, Jordan Culver and The Associated Press
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