Lori Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, died in December, but it was pings to his cellphone that led investigators to the bodies of Vallow's kids, who went missing in September. Human remains belonging to JJ Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17, were discovered earlier this month on rural Idaho property belonging to Chad Daybell, Vallow's fifth husband (who is not the father of either child). Both Vallow and Daybell have been arrested in connection with the children's disappearances, though neither has been charged with murder and authorities have not said how the children died. But East Idaho News reports that, per court documents, JJ was found wrapped in plastic and duct tape while Tylee was found dismembered and burned. CNN reports that authorities found, via Cox's cellphone, that Cox had visited Daybell's Fremont County property four times in September—including visits on the days after each of the kids was last seen.
A friend says Vallow, who along with Daybell was said to be obsessed with doomsday prophesies, had described both children as zombies before their deaths. Tylee was last seen in Yellowstone National Park Sept. 8, and Cox was on that trip along with Vallow and JJ. Cox's phone shows he was then at Vallow's apartment three times immediately following that trip, the final visit starting at 2:42am Sept. 9. Later that morning, pings show Cox was in Daybell's yard for more than two hours, with a possible jaunt to a city five minutes away. About 14 minutes after Cox was last in the backyard, per the phone, Daybell texted his then-wife, Tammy Daybell (who died in October), to tell her he shot a raccoon that morning and buried it in their pet cemetery—the same part of the property where Cox's phone pinged. Neighbors also recalled seeing a fire on the property Sept. 9, which was described as unusual, the AP reports. JJ was last seen Sept. 22, and Cox's phone pinged from Daybell's backyard—again from the location where the bodies were later found—on Sept. 23. (Read more Lori Vallow stories.)