HONOLULU (AP) — The mother of an Idaho boy and his teenage sister who have been missing since September has been arrested in Hawaii on felony child abandonment charges and authorities said she was expected to appear in court on Friday.
Lori Vallow, also known as Lori Daybell, 46, was arrested on a warrant from Madison County, Idaho, and was being held for lack of $5 million bail, Kauai police said.
Seven-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan have not been seen since late September, and police in Rexburg, Idaho, have said they "strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee's lives are in danger."
Police in the eastern Idaho city of Rexburg have said Lori Vallow and her new husband Chad Daybell have lied about the children's whereabouts and even about their existence, with Chad Daybell allegedly telling one person that Lori Vallow had no kids, and Lori Vallow allegedly telling another person that her daughter had died more than a year earlier.
Vallow must be extradited before she can face the charges in Idaho, a legal process that often takes weeks. Kauai police said in a statement that she was expected to appear in court Friday but provided no other details.
"Vallow abandoned her two minor children, delayed law enforcement's attempts to locate her children, and encouraged another individual to delay law enforcement's attempts to locate her children," Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood's office said in a statement.
Lori Vallow's attorney, Sean Bartholick of Rexburg, Idaho, did not respond to phone and social media messages seeking comment and an email message to Daybell seeking comment was not immediately answered..
Vallow is also accused of disobeying a court order that required her to bring her children to Idaho authorities last month.
The tangled case spans multiple states and includes investigations into three separate deaths. Lori Vallow's estranged husband, Charles Vallow, was shot and killed in Phoenix July 11, 2019 by Lori's brother, Alex Cox. Cox, who claimed the shooting was in self-defense, died of unknown causes in December.
In August, Lori Vallow moved her family to Idaho. In October, Chad Daybell's wife Tammy Daybell died of what her obituary said was natural causes. When Chad Daybell married Lori Vallow two weeks after Tammy's death, law enforcement became suspicious and ultimately had Tammy Daybell's remains exhumed.
The test results on Tammy Daybell's remains and on Alex Cox have not yet been made public.
Coco Zickos, a spokeswoman with the Kauai Police Department, said law enforcement would hold a news conference Friday afternoon about Vallow's arrest and court appearance.
Wood said Vallow is charged with two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children and misdemeanor charges of resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, and contempt of court. The felony charges carry maximum prison sentences of 14 years in prison.
Rexburg police in December asked Kauai police for help in locating the couple. On Jan. 26, Kauai police served a search warrant on a rented vehicle and condo they were renting in the resort town of Princeville on Kauai's north shore.
Lori Vallow reportedly believes she is "a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ's second coming in July 2020," according to divorce documents Charles Vallow filed before his death.
Chad Daybell has written several apocalyptic novels based loosely on Mormon religious theology. Both were involved in a group that promotes preparedness for the biblical end-times.
Police questioned Daybell and Vallow about the missing children in late November, and the couple left town before police returned the next day.
Associated Press writer Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.