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Lori Daybell’s Ex-Best Friend Reveals the Moment It All Changed: It Was Like a ‘Bomb’ Dropping


Key witness Melanie Gibb says that her friendship Lori Daybell started falling apart because of the lies Daybell told about the whereabouts of Joshua “JJ” Vallow, the missing 7-year-old boy who has since been confirmed dead by Idaho authorities.

“It’s like a bomb drops on you,” Gibb told Dateline host Keith Morrison in an interview scheduled to air Monday at 10 p.m. EST / 9 p.m. CST. “What do you do? You just are in shock a little bit.”

Gibb’s name will be familiar to people who’ve followed the disappearances and deaths of JJ Vallow and his sister Tylee Ryan, who were 7 and 17 years old when they went missing in Sept. 2019. Gibb’s cited as key witness in the desertion complaint against the kids’ mother Lori Daybell, and in the complaint for destruction of evidence against the defendant’s new husband Chad Daybell.

As previously reported, police said they started investigating the children’s whereabouts in November 2019, when grandmother Kay Woodcock requested a welfare check. Cops couldn’t find them, and the Daybells allegedly lied and were evasive. Lori in particular claimed JJ was with Gibb in Gilbert, Arizona.

But Gibb said that wasn’t true, Joshua wasn’t staying with her, and he hadn’t even there for months. She said that Lori and Chad separately called her on Nov. 26, and asked her to tell cops that Joshua was with her, even though that wasn’t true, according to the complaint. Gibb rejected the requests. This allegation is why Lori Daybell faces a count of misdemeanor solicitation to commit resisting and/or obstructing an officer.

“Lori called and said, ‘Hey, everything’s fine,'” Gibb told Dateline. “‘I told them that JJ was with you.'”

Morrison asked if this was “the moment this all changed” for her.

“Oh, absolutely,” Gibb answered. “I can’t even begin to tell you how horrible that moment was for me.”

Asked if the Daybells betrayed her, she said yes.

“They tried to use me as their way of escape,” she said. “So part of me is processing, ‘I can’t believe you’re friends with these people.’ The other part of me is like, ‘How did you even believe any of the things they shared to you?”

Gibb previously disowned her friendship with the Daybells in a 7-page letter, warning others not to make the same mistakes.

Judging by the police account, Gibb and her boyfriend David Warwick would’ve been some of the last people to see JJ before he went missing. They stayed at Lori Daybell’s new home in Rexburg, Idaho the weekend the 7-year-old boy disappeared, cops said.

They and Lori Vallow were going to do a podcast, but JJ was acting up, so the boy’s uncle Alex Cox took the child to his nearby apartment in the same complex:

When Alex returned later that night he was carrying JJ who appeared to be asleep with his head on Alex’s shoulder. Warwick specifically remembered this because he saw it as a tender moment.

According to officials, Warwick woke up the morning of September 23, 2019. He asked Lori Vallow where Joshua was between 8 and 9 a.m. The mother–who allegedly told Gibbs before that JJ and Tylee had become “zombies–told a disturbing story.

From the affadavit:

Lori informed Warwick and Gibb that JJ had been acting like a zombie and had been crawling on the kitchen cabinetry and had gotten on top of the cabinetry in the space between the cabinetry and the ceiling. She informed Warwick and Gibb that when JJ had climbed upon the cabinetry that he had knocked a picture of Jesus off the refrigerator. Vallow then informed Warwick and Gibb that Alex had come and taken JJ.

Tylee Ryan was last seen during a Sept. 8 family trip to Yellowstone National Park, joined by her mother, little brother, and Alex Cox. JJ Vallow went missing days later on the 23rd.

Police said cellphone data puts Cox by the location their gravesites on Chad Daybell’s property on Sept. 9 and the 23rd. Cops also mentioned that the uncle was layed at Lori’s apartment between 2:42 a.m. and 3:37 a.m.: “significant” because he was there in the middle of the night, and this was the only time he seemed to visit there between midnight and 6 a.m. in September 2019.

Cox died in December, several months after shooting and killing Lori Daybell’s ex-husband Charles Vallow. A medical examiner’s office in Maricopa County, Arizona said Cox died from a blood clot. Police have said they’re still investigating.

[Screengrab via Dateline NBC]

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