Hawaii holds woman over missing children amid suspicious deaths

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Police in Hawaii arrested a woman and charged her with felony desertion of her two children, who have not been seen since September 2019. — AFP file pic
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Police in Hawaii arrested a woman and charged her with felony desertion of her two children, who have not been seen since September 2019. — AFP file pic

WASHINGTON, Feb 23 — A 46-year-old American woman with reported links to a doomsday cult and to at least three people whose deaths are being investigated has been arrested in Hawaii over the disappearance of her two children.

Lori Vallow was arrested Thursday on the island of Kauai and charged with felony desertion of the children, 7-year-old Joshua Vallow, who is autistic, and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, police said in a statement.

According to US media reports, the children, who have different fathers, were last seen on September 23, 2019.

Their disappearance was reported in November by the boy’s grandparents, who live in Louisiana and had heard nothing from the children for an extended period.

There has been no sign of them since.

The investigation, spanning several states, took a macabre turn when police discovered that several people closely associated with Lori Vallow and her new husband, Chad Daybell — author of esoteric books about two “near-death experiences” and his “contacts” with the next world — had died in recent years, media reports said.

Investigators found that Vallow’s third husband, Joseph Ryan — Tylee’s father — had died in 2018, apparently of a heart attack.

And she was reportedly in the process of divorcing her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, when he was killed by a gunshot last July 11.

Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, said he had fired the shot in self-defense after being attacked by a baseball-bat-wielding Vallow; Cox died of unknown causes in December.

Preparing for ‘Second Coming’

Charles Vallow had said in a divorce filing that his wife, with whom he was then living in Arizona, had developed cult-like beliefs, convinced that she was “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020.”

Some religions believe that 144,000 of the faithful will be resurrected during the Apocalypse to spend eternity in heaven.

Last October 19, Daybell’s wife Tammy died, aged 49, ostensibly of natural causes.

Media reports said Daybell married Lori Vallow just two weeks later, and suspicious law enforcement officials ordered Tammy’s remains exhumed for testing. Those results have not been released.

In early November, Vallow and Daybell left Idaho for Hawaii, where they were married.

No children have been seen with them, and police said the couple had given confusing or contradictory answers about the children.

Police on the mainland pursuing the various investigations asked Hawaii officials to question the couple; Vallow was ordered to produce the missing children on January 30.

Her arrest Thursday came after she failed to do so.

Daybell is facing no charges, but Vallow remains in jail with bail set at US$5 million.

She is expected to be returned to Idaho, having refused in a court hearing Friday to waive extradition, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported. — AFP

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