The photo, released by the FBI on Monday, shows 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan beaming alongside their uncle, Lori’s brother Alex Cox, at Yellowstone National Park back on Sept. 8 last year, the FBI said.
Their bright smiles and gleeful hug in front of the boardwalk of a thermal area at the national park provides no inkling of the children’s impending demise.
The next day, Cox’s phone pinged some hundred miles away in Rexburg, Idaho, where the children’s “tortured” bodies were found buried in Lori’s husband Chad Daybell’s backyard, East Idaho News reported.
Ryan’s remains were found dismembered and burned, scattered among dog and cat bones in a pet cemetery while Joshua’s tiny body was found tightly wrapped in black plastic and bound with grey duct tape.
The two children were reported missing soon after the photo was taken, and instead of helping investigators track them down, Vallow and Daybell absconded to a Hawaiian resort.
The couple, both believed to be part of a doomsday cult, are now behind bars. Lori was arrested on child desertion charges while Daybell faces multiple felony counts for concealing, altering or obstructing evidence.