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Mom of missing kids won’t fight extradition to Idaho, could face charges early next week

Lori Vallow, also known as Lori Daybell, waived extradition after a judge denied reducing her bail for the second time

Lori Vallow, aka Lori Daybell, appears in court in Kauai, Hawaii.
Lori Vallow, aka Lori Daybell, appears in court in Kauai, Hawaii, on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020.
Pool

SALT LAKE CITY — Moments after a judge denied Lori Vallow a reduction in her $5 million bail, the mother of two missing Idaho children agreed to waive extradition to face felony charges of desertion and nonsupport.

“She would like to expedite her return there, so she can defend herself,” her attorney, Craig De Costa said.

The 20-minute hearing began with De Costa arguing that $5 million bail was unreasonable for the charges Vallow, also known as Lori Daybell, faces in Idaho. She’s been charged with two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport, as well as three misdemeanors, including contempt of court for failing to bring the children to a hearing on Jan. 30 in Madison County.

This combination photo of undated file photos released by National Center for Missing & Exploited Children show missing children Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, left, and Tylee Ryan, 17.
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children via Associated Press

Vallow’s children — 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old JJ Vallow — haven’t been seen since September by any friends, family or neighbors. Police can find no sign of either child, with the last evidence of Tylee coming in the form of a picture taken with her mother in Yellowstone on Sept. 8, and the last evidence of JJ coming on the Sept. 23 when a neighbor’s security camera recording him playing with friends in the neighborhood, according to court documents.

The case gained national attention — and scrutiny for Vallow and her new husband, Chad Daybell — when family and friends held a press conference on Dec. 20, 2019, offering a $20,000 reward for help finding the children. The deaths of both of the couple’s spouses and Lori Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, has made the case even more complicated and intriguing. De Costa suggested the intense publicity was part of the reason Vallow’s bail, which is a mechanism to ensure a defendant appears for court hearings, was set at such an unusually high amount.

Prosecutor Justin Kollar countered that since the initial hearing, in which the judge upheld the $5 million bail set by an Idaho judge after Vowell failed to appear Jan. 30, investigators discovered she’d been charged with contempt in a child custody dispute in 2009 regarding her oldest child, Tylee. He conceded he hasn’t seen a case like Vallow’s in his 15 years as a prosecutor.

Vallow and Chad Daybell were married on Nov. 5 in Kauai, just two weeks after Daybell’s wife Tammy died in her sleep, according to an affidavit in support of the criminal charges. The two returned to Idaho, where Rexburg police talked with them on Nov. 25 about checking on JJ, whose grandparents had requested a welfare check from police.

Kollar said that while the couple maintains they had always planned to move to Kauai, the fact that they left the day after police came looking for her children “raised eyebrows.”

Judge Kathleen Watanabe didn’t hesitate in denying any bail reduction during the Wednesday afternoon hearing, and seemed to bristle at the second request from defense attorneys.

“This court is confirming bail at $5 million,” Watanabe said. “I just want to say for the record, that at the prior hearing, the court confirmed bail at $5 million, and confirm means firmly establishes ... I am firmly establishing what I previously confirmed.”

It was after that announcement that De Costa said Vallow would forgo an extradition hearing scheduled for Monday, opting instead to concede her identity and the legality of the arrest that brought her before Watanabe.

There was some discussion about how long it would take Rexburg police to have an agent in Kauai to escort Vallow back to Idaho, and a status conference was set for Wednesday in case there are any issues in doing so.