PHOENIX — Phoenix police are reviewing the death of Lori Vallow Daybell’s third ex-husband after new evidence has come to light.
Joseph Ryan was believed to have died of natural causes, but a recording provided to the Phoenix Police Department by his sister, Annie Cushing, might prove otherwise.
On April 3, 2018, police found the 59-year-old Ryan in his apartment. According to the police report, obtained by FOX 10, Ryan’s neighbor left his apartment and noticed his dog scratching at Ryan’s door. Then he smelled an odor. The police were called and Ryan’s body was found in bed in an advanced stage of decomposition. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner determined Ryan’s cause of death to be from arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which hardens and narrows the arteries.
Court records show that Ryan had previously accused his ex-wife, a former Chandler resident, of parental alienation and that she had been keeping his daughter from him.
Ryan was the father of Vallow Daybell’s 17-year-old daughter, Tylee Ryan, who was found dead, along with her 7-year-old son Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, on June 9 after the children had not been seen since September 2019. Their remains were found on the rural Idaho property of their mother’s fifth husband, Chad Daybell.
The Daybells are currently awaiting trial on charges connected to the deaths of her children and will be tried together. They have been charged with conspiracy to destroy, alter or conceal evidence in connection with the children’s deaths. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In the October 2018 audio recording obtained by the Arizona Republic, Vallow Daybell can be heard justifying the murder of her ex-husband by citing passages from the Book of Mormon — just six months after his death. She also accused Ryan of raping her children. Ryan and Vallow Daybell endured a contentious, 10-year custody battle.
“I went through a lot of years of this kind of hard stuff, and I was going to murder him. I was going to kill him, like the Scripture says. Like Nephi killed — just to stop the pain and to stop him coming after me and to stop him coming after my children,” she said in the recording, according to the Republic.
“I went to my bishop and I was like, ‘I’m either going to turn my life to the temple or I’m going to commit murder. So do you want to give me a temple recommend?’ And I was perfectly honest because at that point I had nothing to lose,” she said. “And he gave me my temple recommend.”
A temple recommend is a permit that lets someone who is a Latter-day Saint enter the faith’s temples. Vallow Daybell said in her testimony that she began attending temple every day.
The Daybells are both members of the LDS church. He has written several apocalyptic novels loosely based on Mormon religious theology, and both had been involved in a group that promotes preparedness for biblical Armageddon.
A spokesperson for the Phoenix police confirmed to the Republic that the case is being reviewed.
Vallow Daybell is also under investigation for the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. On July 11, 2019, Alex Cox, Vallow Daybell’s brother, shot and killed Vallow – claiming self-defense to Chandler Police. Cox died of natural causes in his Gilbert home in December. Vallow’s death is still under investigation and the Chandler Police Department has said they will be submitting charges against Vallow Daybell to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in the coming months.
Chandler Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jason McClimans previously told Patch that Vallow Daybell has never been ruled out as a person of interest in the case and that the investigation is ongoing. Detectives are still piecing together digital data and have active subpoenas out.
Worried his wife would kill him after he filed for divorce, Vallow had filed for an order of protection, according to court documents that paint a picture of a woman who believed she was a “translated being” and “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020.”
Police in Rexburg, Idaho, are investigating the death of Daybell’s wife Tammy, who died two weeks before he and Lori Vallow were married in Hawaii.