A woman whose two children have been missing since September has been arrested and arraigned in court in Hawaii.
Lori Vallow, 46, had been living on the island of Kauai with her new husband Chad Daybell, but there was no sign of her children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan.
Ms Vallow, who has been linked to a doomsday cult-like group, fled to Hawaii in November after Idaho police questioned her about her missing children.
She appeared in court on Friday to face two counts of child abandonment and is being held on a US$5 million (£3.8 million) bond in Kauai. She was also charged with resisting officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court.
The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the children and Ms Vallow’s marriage to Mr Daybell have been shrouded in mystery.
Prior to the children’s disappearances, Ms Vallow’s former husband Charles Vallow was shot and killed in July by her brother, Alex Cox.
Cox claimed he shot Charles out of self-defence. He died in December of unknown causes.
Before he died, Charles filed divorce documents and said his former wife believes she is “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020”.
He had also taken out a protective order after she allegedly threatened to kill him if he obstructed her mission and would “dispose of the body” with the help of “an angel”.
Charles also said she was “obsessive about near-death experiences and spiritual visions” but would not seek help for her mental health because “they would discover that she is a translated being”.
In October, Ms Vallow married Mr Daybell, a publisher and author of several apocalyptic books – two weeks after his previous wife, Tammy Daybell, died.
Although Tammy’s obituary said she died of natural causes, police became suspicious after he remarried in such a short period of time and ordered her body exhumed.
The results of toxicology and other testing have not yet been released.
Ms Vallow and Mr Daybell have both been involved in an organisation called “Preparing A People” that promotes being ready for the apocalypse.
In late November, Joshua’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, asked police in Rexburg to check on Ms Vallow’s apartment and police discovered then they had not heard from the boy in some time.
In an affidavit obtained by the East Idaho News site, Detective Ron Ball of the Rexburg Police Department wrote: “Chad acted as if he didn’t know Lori very well and stated he didn’t know her phone number.”
Ms Vallow’s brother, who was still alive at the time, told police the boy was with his grandparents. Mr Ball called this “not likely to be true due to the face that Kay was the individual who first called in a missing child report”.
The affidavit goes on to describe how Ms Vallow told police her son was at a friend’s house in Gilbert, Arizona, but when police contacted the friend, they said Joshua had not been there in months.
The day after police visited Ms Vallow’s home, they returned with a search warrant and found the couple had left the apartment the night before. They then flew from Los Angeles to Kauai on 1 December.
Ms Vallow was ordered by a judge to produce the children to Idaho authorities in January but she refused to comply. She will face a hearing on 2 March for extradition to Idaho, which she will fight.
–Kaua‘i police arrest Lori Vallow on $5 million warrant from Idaho– pic.twitter.com/n2ghadtfal— Kaua'i Police Department (@kauaipd)February 21, 2020
Mr Daybell was not arrested and is not facing any criminal charges, and is “free to move about as he pleases”, said Kauai Police Chief Todd Raybuck.
Mr and Mrs Woodcock have offered US$20,000 of information on the whereabouts of Joshua and Tylee and were "relieved" to hear of Ms Vallow's arrest.
"We are elated. We are relieved. We are ready for the next stop which for Lori is: where are the kids? Where are the kids? Where are the kids?," they told East Idaho News.