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Family member of missing Idaho kids using social media data to help in search

Posted at 5:34 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 20:34:01-04

Tylee Ryan's aunt says she is dedicated to doing whatever she can to help the FBI and police in the search for JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, who were last seen in September.

Their mother Lori Vallow Daybell is in a Madison County Jail trying to bond out. She is charged with two counts of desertion of a minor, misdemeanor resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime and contempt of court.

Annie Cushing is Tylee's aunt. She met Lori in 2002 when she was pregnant with Tylee. She was married to Annie Cushing's brother Joseph Ryan.

"He was just over the moon with Tylee, he had never been married, he had never had a child," said Cushing.

Annie says Joe and Lori had a rocky marriage and went through an ugly custody battle over Tylee. Ryan died of an apparent heart attack in 2008 in Phoenix.

A spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department told ABC15 that the FBI reached out to them about Ryan's death.

The department gave agents case information, but the investigation has not been re-opened.

Annie said she remained close to Lori through her fourth marriage with Charles Vallow, but said during her last visit to Arizona in 2018, things were off with Lori.

She said she hadn't heard from her and couldn't believe when she found out that the two kids were missing, and Charles had been killed.

"It was such a mind-numbing experience. In many ways it was just, 'What has happened with this family?' said Cushing. "It's so hard to know where the truth ends and the when fiction begins."

She's since been focused on the search for her niece and JJ.

She's been working with developer to pull social media data from people who posted on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at Yellowstone National Park on September 8, the last record police say they have of Tylee.

Last week, the FBI released images of Tylee with JJ, Lori and Lori's brother Alex Cox at the park. They have created a website where people can upload images and videos that could help in the search.

"Tylee and JJ we are coming for you. We are going to do whatever we can possibly do to assist in this investigation," she said.

Annie said strangers from all over the world have reached out to her and have volunteered to help.

Developers have helped Annie pull posts that tag the park or use specific hashtags. Volunteers are reaching out to those users to see if they can go through photos from their time at the park.

"It's so touching, and just to have this support of this army of people who are so concerned about Tylee and JJ." she said.

Lori Daybell has not been able to post bail since the judge lowered her bond to $1 million dollars during her initial appearance.

Daybell's attorneys have filed a motion to have the current judge disqualified.

The Madison County Prosecutor filed a motion in response objecting the disqualification.

In the defense's response, Daybell's attorney said " Judge Eddins is currently presiding over the child protection action (civil action) which corresponds with the charges alleged against the Defendant in the above-referenced case.

This poses a conflict and/or unfair prejudice with respect to the Defendant’s right to fair proceedings, 5th amendment and any rulings made therein. Therefore, the Defendant respectfully requests the Honorable"

Judge Eddins is expected to rule on the motion to disqualify the judge Friday at 1pm MST.

Both the prosecution and defense have also filed a motion to have Daybell's preliminary hearing pushed back to May.