Two children who lived in Idaho — Tylee Ryan, 17, and Joshua Vallow, 7 — have been missing for months.
The story of their disappearance is part of a larger tale that has drawn national and international headlines and involves at least three people dead, the two missing children and open police investigations in multiple states.
At the center of it all are the children’s mother, Lori Vallow, 46, and her new husband, Chad Daybell, 51 — a couple whose religious doomsday beliefs have isolated them from their families, their relatives say.
Ms. Vallow was arrested in Hawaii on Thursday, the police on Kauai said, on a warrant issued by the authorities in Idaho. She faces charges that include two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, resisting or obstructing officers, contempt of court and criminal solicitation to commit a crime.
Ms. Vallow and Mr. Daybell married shortly after both of their former spouses died: Ms. Vallow’s husband was shot, and Mr. Daybell’s wife’s cause of death remains unknown. The authorities have said that Ms. Vallow did not cooperate to help find the missing children.
The newlyweds were then found together — without the children — in Hawaii.
What happened in Arizona, Idaho and Hawaii?
Last year, multiple people who were related or married to Ms. Vallow or Mr. Daybell were either killed or found dead.
In July, Ms. Vallow’s brother, Alexander Cox, called 911 to say that he had shot Charles Vallow, Ms. Vallow’s estranged husband, at her home in Chandler, Ariz.
According to body camera footage from the police officers who responded to his call, Mr. Cox said that he had been visiting his sister when Mr. Vallow, who had been living in Texas, came to see the children.
Mr. Cox said that he had witnessed an altercation between his sister and Mr. Vallow and that she had left the home. Then, Mr. Cox said, he got into an argument with Mr. Vallow, who hit him on the head with a baseball bat.
Mr. Cox said that he retrieved his handgun from his room and shot Mr. Vallow in self-defense. Mr. Vallow died. No arrests were made, but the case remains under investigation, the police in Chandler said.
On Oct. 19, Mr. Daybell’s wife, Tammy Daybell, 49, was found dead in her home in Salem, Idaho. The authorities said that she appeared to have died of natural causes, and she was buried in Springville, Utah, where she once lived.
Mr. Daybell married Ms. Vallow the next month; she moved to Idaho.
But Tammy Daybell’s body was exhumed on Dec. 11 after the authorities in Idaho began to question the circumstances of her death and whether it might have been connected to the disappearances of Tylee and Joshua.
The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho, which is investigating Ms. Daybell’s death, is waiting for autopsy results.
On Dec. 12, Mr. Cox, Ms. Vallow’s brother, was found dead in his home in Gilbert, Ariz., according to the police there. It remains unclear how he died.
“We are currently awaiting for the autopsy results to come back,” a department spokeswoman said in a statement. “We anticipate it’ll be another two months or so for us to receive those results.”
Ms. Vallow and Mr. Daybell eventually turned up in Hawaii but without the children, and in late January, the Kauai Police Department said it had served her with a court order to take her children to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
The deadline came and went, but neither Ms. Vallow nor her children appeared.
On Thursday, the Kauai police said that they had arrested Ms. Vallow in Princeville, and that she would attend a hearing on the island “where she will have an opportunity to waive or fight her extradition to Idaho.”
The police said that she faced no criminal charges on Kauai, and was being held with bail set at $5 million. Mr. Daybell was not arrested.
Idaho court documents supporting the charges against Ms. Vallow said that when the police searched her and her rented Ford Explorer in Kauai, they found Tylee’s bank card, which was still active and had been used since Tylee went missing months ago.
The Rexburg police also discovered that Ms. Vallow sent an email in July asking the facility in Arizona that had trained her son’s service dog to find another family for the dog “due to a change in life circumstances,” the court documents said. The training facility picked up the dog on Aug. 30.
Mr. Daybell’s parents also told the police that Mr. Daybell and Ms. Vallow had told them that Ms. Vallow was “an empty nester,” according to the documents.
Was a religious organization involved?
Mr. Daybell is the author of several books with religious themes, and both he and Ms. Vallow have been linked to an entity called Preparing a People.
A multimedia company, Color My Media, said in a statement that “Preparing a People” was essentially a lecture series. “It is not a ‘group’ and is not a ‘cult’ or something people join,” it said.
The website said it aims to help prepare people for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and the statement made reference to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It added that Mr. Daybell and Ms. Vallow had both appeared on podcasts associated with the organization but were not considered leaders.
Ms. Vallow’s religious beliefs were also mentioned in court documents when Mr. Vallow filed for a divorce from her about five months before he died.
The filings were obtained by Fox 10, a news outlet in Phoenix, which reported that the documents showed that Mr. Vallow claimed that Ms. Vallow believed she was “receiving spiritual revelations and visions to help her gather and prepare those chosen to live in the New Jerusalem after the Great War as prophesied in the Book of Revelations.”
Steve Ellsworth, a lawyer who represented Mr. Vallow when he filed for divorce, confirmed the accuracy of the Fox 10 report. (The divorce was never finalized.)
Where are the children?
It remains unclear where Tylee and Joshua are, and whether they are alive.
The Rexburg police conducted a wellness check on Joshua on Nov. 26. They did not find him. They returned with a search warrant the next day and found that Ms. Vallow and Mr. Daybell had left Rexburg.
“We have taken every step available to us, including executing multiple search warrants, interviewing multiple sources and running down every lead we have found,” the Rexburg police said in a statement on Dec. 30. “We strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives are in danger.”
“We want them back,” Larry Woodcock, a grandparent of Joshua, said at a news conference last month. He added that Ms. Vallow was a good mother to the children when they were younger.
“If somebody two years ago would have said this is what’s going to happen with Lori, I would never have believed it,” he said.
The authorities have said that Joshua’s relatives have not heard from him since September, that Mr. Daybell once falsely claimed that Tylee had died more than a year ago, and that Ms. Vallow once falsely claimed that Joshua was staying with a family friend in Arizona.
“We know that the children are not with Lori and Chad Daybell and we also have information indicating that Lori knows either the location of the children or what has happened to them,” the police statement said.
In early February, The East Idaho News reported that Ms. Vallow abandoned a storage unit she had rented on Oct. 1 at Self Storage Plus in Rexburg.
The news outlet shared security footage from the storage company, which appeared to show Ms. Vallow and two men — possibly Mr. Cox and Mr. Daybell — visiting the unit multiple times in October and November to bring or remove items.
Self Storage Plus confirmed in a statement that it had rented a storage unit to Ms. Vallow. An owner of the business confirmed that the authorities had searched the unit on Nov. 27, and that it contained children’s items including photographs, bicycles and clothing.
Sean Bartholick, a lawyer for Ms. Vallow — who may have changed her last name to Daybell — and Mr. Daybell, declined to comment on the case in early February, but issued a statement on their behalf to The East Idaho News in December.
“Chad Daybell was a loving husband and has the support of his children in this matter,” it said. “Lori Daybell is a devoted mother and resents assertions to the contrary. We look forward to addressing the allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor.”
Colby Ryan, Ms. Vallow’s older son from a previous marriage, expressed his frustration with the murky situation and urged his mother to “do the right thing” in a video posted in late January.
Mr. Ryan said he loved his siblings and wanted to see them.
“I just hope everything can work out really soon,” Mr. Ryan said. “I hope everything can turn back around and we can be together again. I want that. I miss our family.”
Mariel Padilla and Michael Levenson contributed reporting.