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JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan remembered during Celebration of Life

IDAHO FALLS — Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan were remembered for their big hearts and loving personalities during a Celebration of Life Saturday afternoon.

Over 200 people gathered in the Colonial Theater and thousands watched from around the world as family members and friends honored the two children, whose remains were on Chad Daybell’s property in June 2020.

Celebration of Life JJ Tylee
Over 200 people gathered in the Colonial Theater in Idaho Falls for the Celebration of Life. | Nate Eaton,

“This started a number of years ago when I stood in front of a camera and said, ‘Where are the kids? Where are the kids? Where are the kids?’” said Larry Woodcock, JJ Vallow’s grandfather. “Now we’re here. I want to thank God for the spirit he has given me and for all of you.”

Larry and his wife, Kay Woodcock, have waited for years to hold a memorial for JJ and Tylee in eastern Idaho. They wiped tears from their eyes as a video of The Rexburg Children’s Choir singing with Fernando Ortega was played at the beginning of the service.

Brian Wood, owner of Wood Funeral Home, conducted the Celebration of Life and the lobby of the Colonial Theater was filled with photos of JJ and Tylee. When it was his turn to speak, Larry Woodcock did not stand at the podium; rather, he sat next to a large picture of JJ on the stage and shared memories of his grandson.

larry on stage
Larry Woodcock speaks next to a photo of his grandson, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, during a Celebration of Life. | Jordan Wood,

“That’s my little man,” he said, pointing to the photograph. “We are blessed to forever be known as paw-paw and maw-maw…I wish you could have met JJ and knew him and loved him as we loved him.”

Todd Trahan, JJ’s biological father, is currently incarcerated in Louisiana but called into the service unannounced and recalled seeing his son for the last time in 2019. JJ was drinking chocolate milk and Kool-Aid while eating popcorn.

“No parent in this world can prepare themselves for the things that happened to you. I’ve asked God why he would let things happen like this,” Trahan said. “You have been a warrior since you were born – two pounds, eight ounces. The spirit of God was with you and is with you more now watching over me.”

Woodcock and Pastor Larry Cudmore read a three page letter from cousin Zac Cox, who recalled watching television shows with Tylee and going to Jack in the Box late at night with her. He said Tylee was JJ’s protector and “we’re all thankful for that.”

“I still can’t wrap my head around anything that has happened and why this happened to you and JJ,” Cox wrote. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about what you would be doing if you were still alive and still here.”

Other memories of the children from friends were also read at the service along with a poem titled “The Smile” by Brandon Boudreaux, JJ and Tylee’s former uncle. Another family member, Megan Conner, performed “Over the Rainbow,” “Tears in Heaven,” “Go Rest High on that Mountain” and “Ave Maria.”

Cudmore concluded the memorial by saying despite the tragedy, JJ and Tylee’s deaths have brought people together and the children are resting in the arms of a loving Jesus Christ.

“You have an extended family from all over the world.” Cudmore said. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.”