Lori Vallow case: Nanny who watched JJ recounts experience in the days before boy's disappearance

Posted at 1:13 PM, Feb 25, 2020

REXBURG, Idaho — The nanny of JJ Vallow — one of two step siblings who have been missing since September — is coming forward to share a statement she gave to police about what JJ Lori Vallow-Daybell told her just days before JJ went missing.

The woman, who was granted anonymity for this story, shared her statement with the public to give insight into what she learned about 7-year old Joshua "JJ" Vallow, and 17-year old Tylee Ryan.

JJ has been missing since Sept. 23, and Tylee since Sept. 8. Both were last seen in Rexburg, Idaho.

According to the nanny, she and Lori Vallow-Daybell connected through Care.com, a website that helps families find child care workers. The two sent text messages back and forth.

"She asked me to come over for an interview to see if I could handle watching JJ since he has autism," the nanny said.

On Sept. 18, the woman said she went to Daybell-Vallow's Rexburg townhome to meet JJ.

"She was very welcoming and gave me a hug. Their home was clean and had a picture of a temple on the wall," the nanny said. "She explained to me, as we watched JJ play outside with the neighbor kids, some of his tendencies. He gets emotional easily, frustrated, distracted, has difficulty communicating with others, but can follow orders if you look at him right in the eyes."

Daybell-Vallow told the woman about moving from Arizona, the nanny said. According to witnesses and documents, Daybell-Vallow, the children, and her brother Alex Cox moved to Rexburg less than two months after Cox shot and killed Daybell-Vallow's husband, Charles Vallow. Cox told police the shooting was in self-defense.

"She explained to me how they recently moved (to Idaho) from Arizona. Her husband had just died of a heart attack and how JJ doesn't quite understand the situation. Lori said how she and her husband adopted JJ and that he was her nephew," the nanny said.

The nanny also said Daybell-Vallow also talked about her daughter Tylee, who the nanny did not meet.

"Her daughter also lives in Rexburg and is going to college," the nanny said. "She said her daughter doesn't like to babysit JJ without being paid, so she wanted me to work for her. Occasionally her daughter would come visit for dinner or to do laundry, but she never said that she lived there with them. It appeared that only Lori and JJ lived there, from the look of things and from what she told me."

In Vallow-Daybell's charging documents, police have said that she told people Tylee was attending BYU-Idaho. However, police said they confirmed that Tylee never enrolled there.

Neighbors have said that they saw Tylee around the townhome complex a few times, including the day the family moved in from Arizona.

Documents state that Daybell-Vallow, her brother Alex Cox, and Tylee took a day trip to Yellowstone on Sept. 8. Photos of Tylee on that day are the last known pictures or sightings of her that police say they've been able to find.

The nanny said that Lori asked her to come over the next day for a few hours to watch JJ, "while she went to the airport to pick up a friend."

"[Daybell-Vallow] mentioned how if she got home later to give JJ his medicine right before bed because it makes him tired fast," the woman said. "She joked about how she liked that because some days when he was extra tough for her to handle, she would give him his meds and have him go to bed early to give her a break."

Rexburg Police later documented finding JJ's medication, with pills still in the bottle, while serving a search warrant on Lori's townhouse in November. According to court documents, police have confirmed that JJ's persciption was filled in Arizona in January 2019, but never re-filled in Idaho.

The nanny said Daybell-Vallow's brother came over to the townhome that day and then left with her.

The nanny also said JJ was upset that his adoptive mother left, but described the rest of her time watching JJ as "pretty relaxed," and said JJ played with other kids outside.

Later, the nanny said that JJ had a breakdown.

"He started crying and screaming. I tried to calm him down, distract him with a show, tell him how sometimes people need a break, and how he needs to share," the nanny said. "He threw the chair from their wooden table down, flipped the ottoman over by their couch, and then ran upstairs." the nanny said.

Later, the nanny went upstairs to check on JJ and found him in his mother's room. According to the nanny, JJ had his own room, but that room didn't have a bed and only held toys.

She also noted that there was a mattress in the corner of his mother's room, where he slept.

"It was pretty thin, the size of a twin mattress, with sheets and a pillow," the nanny said. "There was a mirror hanging above the mattress in the corner, as JJ ran up from under the bed he went toward the mirror and knocked it off the wall. Hoping it didn't break glass all over the mattress, I picked it up."

The nanny said Daybell-Vallow returned with her brother and the friend they picked up from the airport.

"The mom calmed JJ and asked me what happened. I explained the situation, and she babied him," the nanny said.

The nanny described the affection Daybell-Vallow showed towards JJ as "overwhelming." She paid the nanny $40, and the nanny said she left.

"From what we had talked about yesterday, that was what she seemed to be needing, was nearly daily assistance from me," the nanny said. "This was the last day I saw JJ and Lori."

Six days later, on Sept. 24, the woman said she reached out to Lori about "coming back and working more."

"She responded to me that JJ was with his grandparents for a month and that she was in Hawaii," the nanny said. "She said in about a month, when they come back, that I could work again."

The nanny said she waited until around Halloween, and sent Lori another text to ask if she could work. She said Vallow-Daybell didn't respond.

"I thought it was pretty weird that they just up and left for a month and didn't need me to work ever again after just hiring me," the nanny said. "I assumed she must have really needed a break from JJ, I guess, and I left it at that. That was the last time I ever communicated with Lori."

Vallow-Daybell is currently in jail in Hawaii on felony charges of desertion and nonsupport. JJ and Tylee are still missing. Police said they believe the children are in danger.

Read the full statement here.

This story was originally published by Lauren Steinbrecher on KSTU in Salt Lake City.