‘She had a heart of gold.’ Vigil planned for Tylee Ryan on her 18th birthday

A makeshift memorial honoring Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan has been set up across the street from Chad Daybell’s home. | Courtesy Janeese Summers

REXBURG — Tylee Ryan would be turning 18 years old Thursday but instead of having a birthday party with her friends, a vigil and celebration of life is being held in her honor.

“We want her to be remembered and celebrated for the strong, loving, beautiful girl she was,” says Janeese Summers, one of the vigil organizers. “Her spirit is an example to all of us to love and care for and protect anyone around us with everything we have.”

The remains of Tylee and her 8-year-old brother, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, were found buried on Chad Daybell’s property June 9. Tylee and JJ’s mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, married Chad in November. For months, they refused to tell investigators where the children were but police now believe Tylee was killed Sept. 9, 2019 and JJ died Sept. 23, 2019 – one year ago today.

“On what would have been her 18th birthday, we remember our Tylee and express our gratitude for every moment we were blessed to have her in our lives,” Summer Cox Shiflet, Tylee’s aunt, tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We express our gratitude to all who love her and have prayed for her. We miss her every day. There will never be another Tylee!”

Shiflet says Tylee was a talented singer, dancer, artist, photographer, decorator, hairstylist, makeup artist, impersonator and swimmer. She performed in shows at school and “excelled at anything she tried.”

“Tylee had such great insight and intellect, and she was very quick-witted and often spoke in sarcasm and dry humor,” Shiflet says. “While she was able to verbally eviscerate anyone with one sentence, she never did so out of cruelty, but it was always done in humor and style.”

Tylee loved hanging out with her friends and visiting the LDS Temple. Shiflet notes that Tylee had “great faith in God and said the most beautiful prayers.” At a balloon release program in Arizona meant to honor the children last month, Shiflet shared about her niece’s kind personality.

A program passed out at a balloon launch for Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan in Arizona last month. | Courtesy Summer Cox Shiflet

“Tylee had a heart of gold, and would be there for any of her friends that needed anything,” Shiflet recalls. “She always had great compassion because she had been through so much, which made her a great listener and great support to those around her.”

A makeshift memorial in Tylee and JJ’s memory was set up weeks ago across the street from Chad Daybell’s home. Photos of the children have been attached to a fence, along with ribbons, bows, flowers and signs. Rexburg Police Department detectives who have been working on the case stopped by to pay their respects Wednesday.

Rexburg Police Detectives David Stubbs, Ray Hermosillo, Ron Ball and Chuck Kunsaitis at a memorial honoring Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan. | Courtesy Janeese Summers

“Like all of us, they never met Tylee or JJ,” says Summers. “They have devoted the last 10 months of their lives to them and will continue to do so until justice is served. These men have seen things that can not be unseen, but I pray with time those dark memories will fade. Their dedication and hard work has not gone unnoticed.”

The vigil will be held at the Porter Park pavilion in Rexburg beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday. Members of the public are invited to attend.