J.J. Vallow & Tylee Ryan: UPDATE

J.J. Vallow & Tylee Ryan: UPDATE

J.J. Vallow & Tylee Ryan

For the past two weeks, the true-crime world has had its eyes fixated on missing minors, Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and the mysterious string of deaths that preceded their disappearance. This case of missing children has already taken so many unexpected turns, leaving family, friends, and journalists alike wondering what disturbing new detail will emerge yet.

The last confirmed sighting of J.J. was back in September of 2019, when his mother, Lori Vallow pulled him out of public school, citing a new job offer out of state that would require her to move her children as well. It was not entirely unexpected, as Vallow also cited the recent death of J.J.’s father as another reason why their family life remained in flux. What she failed to mention was the fact that J.J.’s father, Charles Vallow, had been murdered the previous July when her own brother, Alex Cox, shot Charles in self-defense. She swiftly remarried a man named Chad Daybell, who had also recently lost his spouse, Tammy Daybell. Both Charles Vallow and Tammy Daybell’s deaths are currently being investigated as “suspicious” by respective law enforcement agencies. Lori Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, also died in the weeks following the shooting death of her husband, but his cause of death has yet to be released.

This spinning vortex of death and loss was further compounded by the noticeable absence of 17-year-old Tylee and 7-year-old J.J. It wasn’t until one of their grandparents called authorities requesting a welfare check that a missing persons investigation was launched. Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell fled the area following the execution of the search warrant and were finally tracked down in late January on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Vallow was instructed to produce her children by January 30th or face criminal charges. January 30th came and went, and still no word from J.J. or Tylee.

Now, additional warrants executed by authorities have revealed another disturbing detail. According to the EastIdahoNews, investigators have discovered a storage locker in Rexburg, Idaho listed in Lori Vallow’s name. The storage locker contained items that law enforcement strongly believe belonged to the two children, including photo albums, bicycles, scooters, and winter clothing.

Seventeen-year-old Tylee’s cell phone was also found in Lori Vallow’s possession when authorities finally tracked them down in Hawaii, without their missing children. Police were able to determine that the phone had been used several times since September when the children were last seen, though it is difficult to say by whom.

J.J.’s autism required the use of a service dog, primarily for sleeping soundly through the night. A dog trainer based in Arizona has come forward with startling information, “I was surprised and shocked when I got the call from Lori that she needed to re-home the dog.” Her only explanation was that her husband had recently passed and the family was moving to Idaho.

J.J. is described as a white male with brown hair and brown eyes, standing at 4′0″ and weighing 50 pounds. He also goes by J.J. and may be in need of medical attention. Tylee is described as a white female with blonde hair and blue eyes, standing at 5′0″ and weighing 160 pounds.

Anyone with information about the children is asked to call Rexburg police at 208-359-3000 or report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Lori Vallow, Mom of Two Missing Kids Fails to Show Up in Court

Lori Vallow, Mom of Two Missing Kids Fails to Show Up in Court

With a trail of suspicious deaths, Monster Mom has failed to show up in an Idaho court to prove her missing children are alive. 

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(Joshua “JJ” Vallow and his sister Tylee have been missing from Idaho since September 2019.)

Police say the mother of two missing kids, who was found vacationing in Hawaii earlier in the week, failed to show up to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), as directed by the court.

On January 25, 2019, Kauai police pulled over Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell near a beach resort in Princeville, Hawaii, searching them and their car for any evidence of Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and his sister Tylee Ryan, 17, who have been missing since September. 

Though Daybell and Vallow were not arrested, police served a court order from Idaho, directing her to bring the children to the DHW by January 30, or face legal action. 

Joshua’s grandparents, who have been waiting for the children’s safe return have been trying to hold on to hope, but now that hope is dwindling.

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(Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell never reported their children missing. Tylee and Joshua have not been seen since September.)

A Bizarre Twist

The bizarre case began last July, after Vallow’s fourth husband, Charles Vallow was shot and killed by her brother, Alex Cox, during an argument at their home in Arizona. At the time, Cox said the shooting was in self-defense, but the case remains under investigation. In December, Cox also died, but the cause of death is unknown at this time. Police in Gilbert, Arizona, continue to investigate his death and waiting for toxicology results. 

Vallow moved to eastern Idaho with the children a month after her husband’s death and married Daybell. Only weeks earlier, his wife Tammy, died of what authorities initially listed as natural causes. 

The Children’s Disappearance

The extended family grew concerned because they had not had contact with Tylee and Joshua who has special needs. Rexburg Police Department in Idaho says the children have not been seen since September, but Vallow never reported them missing.

Vallow and Daybell skipped town but left the children’s belongings at their home, causing significant concern of whether the children are still alive. 

Responding to the family’s fears, police went to Vallow’s home to ask about the children. Vallow told authorities that the kids were staying with relatives in Arizona – a claim that authorities quickly found out was not true. Police returned to Vallow’s home the next day and found they had skipped town.

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(Chad and Tammy Daybell prior to her suspicious death in 2019.)

Body Exhumed

Meanwhile, authorities were beginning to question Tammy Daybell’s death. In December, Fremont County Sheriff worked with Utah authorities, where Tammy Daybell’s body was buried, to exhume her body for an autopsy and toxicology tests.

Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries told reporters that investigators searched Chad Daybell’s residence early in January, and removed 43 items to include phones, computers, medications, and journals. Humphries said, at this time, Chad Daybell remains a person of interest in Tammy’s death and the disappearance of Vallow’s children. 

Ten days before Tammy’s death, a masked man approached her in her driveway and shot at her several times with a paintball gun. She filed a report with the Fremont County Sheriff who investigated the claim. 

Daybell passed away on October 19, 2019. On October 9, she went on a neighborhood Facebook group and described what happened.

“Something really weird just happened, and I want you to know so you can watch out,” Daybell wrote. “I had gotten home and parked in our front driveway. As I was getting stuff out of the back seat, a guy wearing a ski mask was suddenly standing by the back of my car with a paintball gun. He shot at me several times, although I don’t think it was loaded. I yelled for Chad and he ran off around the back of my house.”

“Our deputy went out there and investigated the report, but he was unable to find anything,” Sheriff Humphries said.

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(Larry and Kay Woodcock, Joshua Vallow’s grandparents offer a $20,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of siblings Joshua Vallow and Tylee Ryan. Photo courtesy of ABC News.)


Reward Offered

Joshua Vallow’s grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock, announced they were offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of the children earlier this month. The Woodcock’s say they believe Charles Vallow was murdered. They also told reporters her ex-husband was so worried that she would kill him that he obtained an Order of Protection. 

“We strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives are in danger,” said Rexburg police in a statement earlier this month.

Kay Woodcock said she last spoke to her grandson on August 10, and that the conversation only lasted 36 seconds. She said it seemed like he was looking at someone off-camera who directing him. 

“J.J. is my heart,” Larry said. “I’m hoping this will allow one person to simply say ‘I saw (him). I know where he’s at.’ And give us that information so we can bring J.J. and Tylee back.” 

Heartbroken, Larry Woodcock and his wife have also set up a website called FindJJandTylee.com

During a press conference, the Woodcocks were asked if they believed their grandchildren were dead. 

“We want to believe that they are alive, and that’s the reason for the reward,” Larry replied. “It’s the reason, we don’t say, the ‘D’ word. We’re not going to because we hope and pray these kids are alive.”

Witnesses reported to police that Lori told others that Tylee died in 2017, and Chad told others that Lori had no minor children. Both statements very far from the truth. 

“It sends chills up our spines, Kay Woodcock said.” That’s just what brought it home for us. ‘Oh, my God, this is something really bad.’”

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(The court demanded Lori Vallow to present her missing children, Joshua Vallow and Tylee Ryan, to the court on January 30, 2019.) 


Child Protection Order 

Idaho authorities initiated a child-protection action on behalf of the missing children and obtained a court order to force Vallow to present the children to authorities within 5 days. 

“We can confirm that Lori Vallow was served with that order in the city of Princeville on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, on Saturday, January 25th, by the Kauai Police Department and that Chad Daybell was with her,” Rexburg police said in a statement. 

“We can further confirm that Tylee and J.J. were not with Lori and Chad and there is no evidence that Tylee and J.J. were ever in Hawaii.”

When Vallow and Daybell were pulled over and their car seized, an East Idaho News reporter was on the scene. He asked Vallow where her children are and she responded, “No comment.” When he told her that people across the country are praying for her children, she responded, “That’s great,” and refused additional questions. 

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(Colby Ryan, Lori Vallow’s eldest son makes a  plea to his mother to return his missing siblings.) 

A Son’s Plea

On January 5, 2020, Lori Vallow’s older son made an emotional plea in a video he posted to his YouTube channel telling her to reveal information about where his missing sister Tylee, and little brother Joshua are.  

“I can’t tell you how hurt and frustrated and confused I am about what’s going on,” Vallow’s oldest son, Colby Ryan said. “Even if you just show them on Facetime. Just show them on Facetime to the police it would be a lot better.” 

He went on to say, “I don’t know what else I can tell you to do than to know that this is just the right thing to do.” 

Relatives of Vallow all say she began to change when she joined a religious group believed to be extreme. Her son no longer recognizes his mother. “We had a life and it seems like that life never existed at this point Ryan said. 

Ryan and Tylee’s father, Joseph Ryan, passed away from a heart attack during 2018. 

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(Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow were reportedly members of a Doomsday Cult in Idaho.)


Doomsday Cult

Daybell has authored several books on near-death experiences and doomsday scenarios that have been promoted to Mormon audiences.

Lori and Charles Vallow had lived in Kauai for several years before moving to Arizona. She became obsessed with Daybell’s books and connected with the author. 

In divorce documents filed by Charles Vallow last February claimed that Lori believed she was a “translated being” and “a god assigned her to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020.” 

Daybell has similar beliefs and a member of a fringe “doomsday cult” claiming in podcasts and blog posts that he has had near-death experiences that allowed him to have visions of the future. He wrote about the apocalypse in one of his books based on the Church for Latter-day Saints theology. 

Other books talk about shocking pandemics, hurricanes, civil unrest, and even a Chinese bioterrorism attack. 

Vallow and Daybell did “Preparing A People” podcasts made by Color My Media, a small multi-media company who wrote in a December 26, 2019, statement: 

*Chad Daybell was an author and began publishing books over 20 years ago under the name of “Spring Creek Book Company.” He spoke at some of the “Preparing A People” events, but had no ownership in it, nor was he a founder. Mr. Daybell was simply one of many speakers at the events. His last speaking engagement was back in February of 2019, in Boise, Idaho. Like all of our speakers, we helped promote the events by interviewing and podcasting interviews with our speakers, including, but in no way exclusively to, Mr. Daybell.

Local, state and federal authorities are still searching for the Vallow children. 

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Joshua Vallow and Tylee Ryan, please call the Rexburg Police Department at 208-359-3000 or 1-800-843-5678. 

Vandals Write Cryptic Message on Billboard of Missing News Anchor Jodi Huisentruit

Vandals Write Cryptic Message on Billboard of Missing News Anchor Jodi Huisentruit

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(Vandals deface a billboard of missing anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit with the words “Frank Stearns Machine Shed” in Mason City, Iowa.) 

On New Year’s Eve, vandals defaced a billboard of KIMT anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit, from Mason City, Iowa. 

The billboard is among three in Mason City, that shows a picture of the beautiful Iowa news anchor, asking the question “Someone knows something, is it you?”

The cryptic words sprayed in bright yellow paint say, “Frank Stearns Machine Shed” across the bottom half of the billboard. Frank Stearns was a longtime detective with Mason City Police Department who diligently worked Jodi’s case. Now retired, Stearns is now a city death scene investigator. 

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(Jodi Huisentruit vanished June 27, 1995 on her way to work at news station KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa.)

Billboard Connection

In 2011, in a bizarre twist of events, the Globe Gazette reported that former Mason City police officer Maria Ohl accused two Mason City police officers and a retired Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) agent of being involved in the abduction and potential murder of Jodi.

Ohl, a ten-year veteran, said she received credible information from an informant in 2007, and again in 2009, who implicated Lt. Frank Stearns, Lt. Ron Vande Weerd and Bill Basler in the abduction. Ohl said she told her superiors but heard only crickets.

Ohl says she was terminated due to her handling of Jodi’s case information.

“It’s horrifically disturbing. They’re still working on the taxpayers’ dollar – the whistleblower was put on administrative leave and terminated.” 

Joshua Benson, an evening anchor at an Orlando ABC affiliate who founded FindJodi.com, said Ohl had also confided in him but he could not find any information that would corroborate her claims. 

In fact, at the time the complaint was filed, an official investigation also found no validity in Ohl’s claims. 

Cold Case investigator Steve Ridge told KIMT that he knows how and when the billboard was vandalized. He says two individuals dressed in black parked in the rear alley behind a tattoo parlor and erected an aluminum ladder against the wall at 11:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. 

While one held the ladder, the other spray-painted “Frank Stearns” in large letters and “Machine Shed” in smaller print below. Ridge said the parking lot of the nearby bar was full, as dozens of cars passed right below the billboard while the individuals were vandalizing it. 

Ridge spoke to Frank Steans at his residence on January 3, 2020. His residence in a rural community does have a detached building on the premises, however, Stearns lived elsewhere in 1995.  While the billboard vandals surely meant to dredge up old wounds and accusations, Stearns remains a respected member of the community and says he hopes they are found and punished. 

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(A loved news celebrity, Jodi Huisentruit’s disappearance has haunted Mason City, Iowa, for over two decades.)

The Disappearance

Jodi, 27, vanished from the outside of her downtown apartment in Mason City on Tuesday, June 27, 1995. The day before, Jodi had played in the local Chamber of Commerce golf tournament. According to friend John Vansice, afterward, Jodi went to his house to view a videotape of a birthday celebration that he had set up for her earlier in the month. 

Jodi went home and called a friend before going to bed. She usually left for work at 3:00 a.m. to anchor the morning show at KIMT. At approximately 4:00 a.m. KIMT producer Amy Kuns noticed that Jodi had not shown up to work. “I called her twice. I talked to her and woke her up the first time,” Kuns told WFLA news anchor Josh Benson. “The second time it just rang and rang. I don’t remember the times. I had obviously woken her up. She asked what time it was. I told her. She said she would be right in.”

Jodi was usually prompt and never missed work, so by 7:00 a.m. KIMT staff had called the Mason City Police Department to conduct a welfare check. 

The Police Investigation

When police arrived at Jodi’s apartment, shortly after 7:00 a.m., her red Mazda Miata was in the parking lot. Officers found a pair of red women’s pumps, a bottle of hairspray, blower dryer and earrings, along with a bent car key, strewn around the car reflecting a struggle had taken place at the vehicle.

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(Investigators examine the parking lot where Jodi Huisentruit vanished in Mason City, Iowa in 1995. Photo courtesy of The Globe Gazette.)

A search was conducted of Jodi’s apartment, the parking lot, and the nearby Winnebago River. 

Early on, the then Mason City Police Chief Jack Schlieper said he suspected foul play. Investigators from the Iowa DCI and the Federal Bureau of Investigation would eventually join the search. It was later reported that investigators had lifted an unidentified palm print off her car. 

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(Apartment complex in Mason City, Iowa, where news anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit vanished in 1995.)

By that Wednesday, as Jodi’s desk sat empty, police continued their extensive search for the young news anchor. Schlieper told reporters at a news conference that police and K-9 units were continuing to search along a two-mile area of the Winnebago River that runs through a park near Jodi’s apartment on North Kentucky Avenue. 

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(Mason City Police searching for missing anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit along the Winnebago River in Mason City, Iowa.)

Police did discover items of clothing along the riverbanks but at the time could not determine if they were Jodi’s. 

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(Police impound Jodi’s red Mazda Miata from her apartment complex to further test for evidence.)

Police confirmed that some residents heard noises that sounded like an animal or animal noises the morning Jodi vanished. We now know she screamed as she was dragged back down the center of the parking bumpers by her car, as her heel marks were left in the dirt on the pavement. 

Neighbors also reported seeing a white van in the parking lot with its parking lights on that evening.

Eventually, there would be questions about whether the crime scene was correctly processed. In hindsight, the answer would be no. For instance, a friend of Jodi’s said police didn’t immediately tape off the crime scene which could have resulted in contamination or evidence being overlooked. In addition, Jodi’s car was released to her parents shortly after the disappearance instead of being kept as evidence. 

Current Chief of Police Jeff Brinkley was asked by 48 Hours if he thought the car was released in haste. He replied, “Maybe.” 

“We don’t have it,” Brinkley said. “But we just have to live with what we got, and –and try to do as good as we can with that.”

Brinkley is the fourth police chief to have Jodi’s case under his command. 

“Basically, all my free time is following up on this case,” said Mason City Police Officer Terrance Prochaska, who took over the case in 2010. 

“What caused her to sleep in that day? What caused her to answer the phone and rush to work? What was she doing the night before? We all want to know the fine details. We know where she was at. She was golfing. She had driven home and made a phone call to her friend. Those are facts. But it’s that gray area in between we don’t understand.”

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(John Vansice answering questions from a reporter at his residence in Arizona. Photo courtesy of CBS News.) 

Person of Interest

It is known after work; Jodi attended the gold tournament. While at the tournament, she told some of her friends that she had been receiving prank phone calls and was thinking of going to the police and changing her number. 

Afterward, John Vansice, who was 22 years older than Jodi, was the last person to have seen her. They watched a video he had shot at the surprise birthday party he had arranged for her. 

“She was like a daughter to me, she was like my own child,” Vansice said to KIMT in 1995. “I treated her like my own child.”

Though Vansice has long been suspected by friends of Jodi to have been involved in her abduction, a friend of Vansice named LaDonna Woodford says there is no way, because she had called him at 6:00 a.m. that morning wanting to go for a walk. When they walked, she says he didn’t seem anxious or out of sorts in any way. 

Vansice also passed a polygraph in 1995 and never named an official suspect. However, in March 2017, search warrants were issued for the GPS records of Vansice’s 1999 Honda Civic and 2013 GMC 1500. It was the most substantial break in the case in decades. However, nothing of importance was ever recovered. 

“We have never closed the case,” Chief Brinkley told 48 Hours. “It’s never been a closed case for us. It’s been an active investigation since it happened.” 

“I’m not ready to quit yet,” Brinkley added.

 JoAnn Nathe also told 48 Hours that she was once suspicious of John, but “we have to be objective; we have to have an open mind. It could be somebody we least expect.” 

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(According to her coworkers, Iowa news anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit was a “rising star” in her field. Photo courtesy of 48 Hours.)

Weekend Skiing

It has already been reported that Jodi had gone water skiing with John Vansice and a couple of friends the weekend before she vanished. 

In Jodi’s June 25, 1995, entry in her journal she wrote, “Got home from a weekend trip to Iowa City — oh we had fun! It was wild, partying and water skiing. We skied at the Coralville Res. I’m improving on the skis — hips up, lean, etc. John’s son Trent gave me some great ski tip advice.” 

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(Jodi Huisentruit went water skiing the weekend before she vanished, leading some to believe someone she met might be responsible for her abduction. Photo courtesy of iboats.com.)

In November 2019, Cold Case Investigator Steve Ridge revealed that Jodi also boarded the Mastercraft ski boat of two younger men she had met the same weekend. 

Ridge told KWWL News that he spoke to witnesses who were at the lake that Saturday in 1995, who said Vansice was not enthused she had left to spend time with younger men, but he did not overreact or cause a scene, as some said Vansice was inclined to do.

Ridge said that once Jodi and a female friend boarded the boat, they were seen drinking and dancing on the boat. Ridge said the owner of the boat took a video of them which was given to Mason City Police investigators. 

Ridge said he was still investigating whether one or both of the young men may have visited Jodi, or attempted to visit her the next day, or Monday, the night she was abducted. 

Ridge believes it is conceivable that a confrontation could have occurred that would shed light on a motive for Jodi’s abduction. “A lot of unfortunate things came together in a relatively short period of time just before Jodi went missing,” claims Ridge. 

Ridge continues to work with authorities though he is an independent investigator. 

Early Life

Jodi was born June 5, 1968, and raised in Long Prairie, Minnesota, a small town of less than 3,500 in 2010. She was the youngest daughter of Maurice Huisentruit and her mother Imogene “Jane” Anderson. 

In high school, Jodi excelled at golf and was considered to have amazing talent at the game. Her team won the Class A tournament in 1985 and 1986. 

After high school, Jodi went to St. Cloud University, where she studied speech and mass communications, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1990.

Though she wanted to be a reporter, after graduating, Jodi’s first job was with Northwest Airlines. She began her broadcasting career with KGAN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as the station’s bureau chief. She then returned to Minnesota for a job with KSAX in Alexandria before returning to Iowa for the position as a news anchor with KIMT.

“She wanted to be famous,” her childhood friend Kim Feist told 48 Hours

Jodi was driven but she also was very close to her mom. In a late January 1994 diary entry, it said “improve my career, make more money, communicate, have more impact on a larger audience. Get the Huisentruit name out. Make Mom proud.”

Missing news anchor Jodi Huisentruit
(Jodi Huisentruit’s mother Imogene, passed away in December 2014, without knowing where her daughter is.)

“I couldn’t have had a better kid sister,” said Jodi’s sister JoAnn Nathe told WOWT in Omaha. “She tried to motivate me. What are your goals? That makes me stronger. It’s a nightmare not knowing where she is. We thought we would find her in the first few months.” 

Their mother, Imogene, passed away in December 2014 at age 91, not knowing where her daughter was. “She so wanted to find Jodi,” Nathe said.

As time passes, it doesn’t get easier for families. Memories fade and tips wane, but the hope to bring Jodi home for a proper burial still burns bright in the hearts of those that loved her.

Alex Holden’s body identified in American River

Alex Holden’s body identified in American River

Alex Holden’s body was identified as the one found in American River. Alex was reported missing on New Year’s Day, 2020.

Police have announced that they suspect “no foul play” in the death of a California man who was reported missing over a month ago. Alex Holden, 25, was reported missing on New Year’s Day after he was last seen the night before. The Sacramento Police Department solicited the public’s help in finding answers surrounding his disappearance, which was described as “uncharacteristic” by his family.

Alex is the son of two Missouri Judges. Alex’s father, Judge Calvin Holden, told the Springfield News-Leader, “He has no history of disappearing. It’s very unusual. You know he missed work this morning, which is extremely unusual. He’s very conscientious about his work.” Judge Holden eventually went on to address the lingering question of whether or not his son would take his own life, to which he gave a categorical denial, “It’s not him. He would never do that. He was one of the happiest people you’d ever know.”

Friends and family were struck with confusion because Alex had shared the location of his mobile device with several individuals with whom he was close, but his phone went dead sometime earlier in the evening, so no one was able to ascertain his last known location. He had been in an argument that evening, and had set off on a walk to another location to sleep. He had walked the route before, and was familiar with the area. His girlfriend, Kennedi Perri, indicated that Alex had been drinking before his disappearance.

On Sunday, January 26, 2020, after almost a month since he was reported missing, a body found in the America River was identified as Alex Holden. In a tweet regarding the tragic news, the Sacramento Police Department said, “This is never the outcome we want from any missing person case. Our hope is that this may provide some closure for the family.”

The family has announced plans for a memorial and visitation ceremony in Springfield on Friday, February 7, 2020 so that friends and family can grieve this terrible loss.

New evidence seized in Kristin Smart case

New evidence seized in Kristin Smart case

Kristin Smart disappeared from California Polytechnic State University on May 24, 1996.

For practically a quarter of a century, Kristin Smart’s family has been through some unimaginable turmoil. Kristin Denise Smart disappeared in May of 1996, and was legally declared dead in May of 2002. Over the years, investigating authorities have received several tips regarding the circumstances of the young woman’s disappearance, but recently, Kristin’s family issued a statement that there might soon be a break in the case.

Kristin was finishing up her freshman year at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California when she went missing. On May 24, 1996, Kristin went to a friend’s birthday party, which happened to be Memorial Day weekend—an active time in a college town. In the early morning hours of May 25, around 2 a.m., she was found passed out on the neighbor’s lawn by a pair of friends, Cheryl Anderson and Tim Davis. Kristin was highly intoxicated and did not have any personal effects on her, such as a purse, I.D., or credit cards. Paul Flores, another party guest, eventually joined the group as the trio helped Kristin back to her dorm. Anderson and Davis eventually separated from the group on their respective journeys home, and Flores was left to escort Kristin the rest of the way. Flores told police that he only escorted Kristin as far as his own residence hall, Santa Lucia Hall, and Kristin was left to return to her own residence hall on her own. This was the last known sighting of Kristin.

One of the most frustrating aspects of crimes against persons living on college campuses is the necessary institution of campus police. It can be to the benefit of university students to have localized, specialized protection from campus police. Not all campus police departments are created equal, but sometimes, campus police can hinder formal police investigations. The University Police Department was not convinced that Kristin had gone missing, but rather thought she had gone on an impromptu vacation over the holiday weekend. They did not immediately report her as a missing person to law enforcement.

Despite the fact that the case remains open and unsolved, police suspected Paul Flores of knowing what had happened following the discovery of crucial evidence. Kristin’s bloody earring was discovered by a tenant living in the building where Flores’ mother had once lived. The earring was lost after police took custody with no explanation. Over the years, many searches have been conducted with ground teams, cadaver dogs. In September of 2016, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s department received a tip about a possible location of Kristin’s remains, resulting in an excavation of a part of California Polytechnic State University. There was ambiguity regarded whether or not the remains were human or animal, and the last reports on this find declared that genetic testing could take months. As of 2020, items found at all three dig-sites were still being investigated by police.

On January 18, 2020, the Stockton Record published a piece regarding a possible break in the case after the family had been in touch with a former FBI agent. In a statement, Kristin’s family said that the detective had informed them that new information had come to light, and the family might want to “get away for a while.” Denise Smart, Kristin’s mother, said she was told, “Be ready. This is really going to be something you don’t expect. We want to give you the support we need.” However, The Record later issued a correction to their breaking news story, saying that it was not an active member of the FBI, but rather a retired detective who, according to Denise Smart, “has provided us guidance over the years.” The family later said in a subsequently released statement, “The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation and they are not putting any timetable on the completion of it. We support the Sheriff Department’s efforts and commitment.”

Now in another twist, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s investigators announced that they had taken two trucks that belonged to the Flores family at the time of Kristin’s disappearance. In addition to the trucks, they also announced that over 30 pieces of evidence from the initial investigation were also being reexamined, undergoing DNA testing. In the 23 years-long investigation, announcements such as this can stimulate public interest in the investigation, keeping a missing person’s face in the media. Christ Lambert, the host and creator of the podcast Your Own Back Yard, which is about the case has also been credited with raising awareness about Kristin’s case. In a statement, Kristin’s family thanked him personally, “Thanks to Chris and all the supporters who have made such an amazing difference. Your Own Backyard has been instrumental in renewing interest in Kristin’s investigation and generating many new leads. Keep the faith and know that you are all making a difference.”