JJ Vallow’s birth mother was “devastated” when the seven-year-old was found buried in a shallow grave, but told a friend the boy’s tragic death was part of “God’s plan” and she will be reunited with him soon would.
Mandy Leger died on June 15, 2022, almost exactly two years after her son Joshua “JJ” Vallow was found dead along with his older half-sister Tylee Ryan, 16, in Rexburg, Idaho.
Leger was JJ’s biological mother, but shortly after his birth in May 2012, she lost custody due to her addiction issues.
He was adopted by his paternal great-uncle, Charles Vallow, who was shot dead in July 2019, and Charles’ wife Lori the following year.
Lori and her fifth husband, doomsday author Chad Daybell, have been accused of murdering JJ, Tylee and others as part of a depraved conspiracy fueled by their radical religious beliefs. Lori’s trial is currently ongoing.
A friend of Leger’s told The US Sun that losing custody of JJ after his birth took a significant toll on her and she spent several years seeking advice on ways she could potentially get her son back.
When the boy was first reported missing in November 2019, she never for a moment believed that something terrible could have happened to him.
But when the horrific discovery of his decomposed remains was made in Chad Daybell’s backyard on June 9, 2020, Leger’s world collapsed.
“She was absolutely devastated,” said a friend of Leger’s.
“But on the other side of the coin, I suppose I have to say that she felt it was part of God’s plan and that JJ’s life and history would serve as an example for humanity to prevent something like this from ever happening again.” “
The friend, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke to Leger the night before her death.
Opening up about the conversation, the friend added, “At that point, she just wanted to find out the truth about how [JJ] was murdered – she wanted to know that more than anything – and how he was brought into this dysfunctional environment in the first place.
“She was in a lot of pain [and] she had so much to blame.
“But her belief system was that one day she could be with her son again, and I think she took comfort in that.”
JJ was born in Canaan Trahan in May 2012 and was adopted by Lori and Charles Vallow – JJ’s uncle – in 2013, just before his first birthday, and his name was later changed to Joshua Jaxton Vallow.
Leger and JJ’s biological father, Todd Trahan, suffered from substance abuse problems and JJ was born addicted to drugs.
Todd’s parents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, temporarily fostered the boy as a baby before Charles and Lori took full custody to raise him as their own in Arizona.
Sources familiar with the matter told The US Sun that Leger’s father and stepmother asked to foster JJ in hopes of keeping him in Louisiana, but were turned down by local Child Protection Services (CPS) officials.
Todd’s father also tried unsuccessfully to encourage the boy.
Leger reportedly had visiting rights for the first six months of JJ’s life before she relapsed and was ordered to go to rehab to regain access to her son, a source said.
Before she could complete the program, JJ’s adoption into the Vallow family was already complete, they claimed.
“She went above and beyond to have a relationship with this baby,” the source said.
“She was adamant that if she worked on herself she could have a relationship with him one day, but she never got that chance.”
JJ – who had autism – was last seen sleeping in the arms of his uncle, Lori’s brother Alex Cox, in Idaho on September 22.
Lori contacted JJ’s specialized elementary school the next day and informed the administration that the boy would not be returning and that she would now be homeschooling him instead.
All traces of JJ disappeared in it.
He was officially reported missing by the Woodcocks the following month.
His sister Tylee had also disappeared days earlier, having last been seen on September 8 while on a family vacation in Yellowstone National Park.
Lori refused multiple law enforcement orders to bring the children before officers.
At one point, she fled to Hawaii with Daybell to get married, and none of her children were seen at the ceremony.
The wedding also came just weeks after Daybell’s wife Tammy, 30, died suddenly in her sleep – a death police first thought was natural but now believe it was caused by asphyxiation.
Meanwhile, Charles Vallow was shot dead by Alex Cox in July 2019. Cox claimed to have defended himself and died in December from causes believed to be natural.
Lori and Chad were officially named people interested in JJ and Tylee’s disappearance that same month, with investigators believing the children’s lives were in danger as Lori failed in her ongoing investigation to find them.
On January 25, 2020, Lori was given an ultimatum by police: she had five days to bring JJ and Tylee to authorities or she would be arrested.
By the time the deadline expired on January 30, Lori had not complied with the order. She was arrested in Hawaii on February 20 and held on a $5 million bond.
‘COLLECT A TOLL’
Even during her incarceration, Lori refused to reveal the children’s whereabouts, offering a variety of excuses, including claiming they were staying with a “friend” in Arizona whom she could not identify.
A horrific discovery would eventually be made on June 9, 2020 after authorities served a search warrant at Chad Daybell’s Rexburg home.
Investigators found JJ’s decomposed remains buried in a shallow grave near a pet cemetery containing property.
The boy’s body was found tied up in duct tape and plastic bags. He was also wearing red pajamas and a night diaper, authorities told a courtroom during Lori’s trial earlier this week.
Tylee’s remains were found nearby. The teenager had been dismembered and burned.
Kay Woodcock previously described to The US Sun how the discovery of JJ’s remains was a “waking nightmare” that left her emotionally scarred.
For Mandy, the news of her son’s horrific death was just as profound.
A second source suggested that her sudden death at the age of 46 was likely a direct cause of all the agony and stress she endured losing JJ.
“She’s been beating herself up so badly over all of this that it’s really taken a toll,” the source said.
Mandy Leger died last June at the age of 46 in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
A coroner’s report from The US Sun revealed that she died of natural causes brought on by hypertensive heart disease.
CULT MOTHER ON PROBATION
Lori Vallow is currently on trial for first-degree murder, conspiracy and grand larceny in connection with the deaths of JJ and Tylee.
She is also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Chad’s first wife, Tammy, as well as related financial crimes.
Prosecutors allege that Lori and Chad conspired with Alex Cox to murder the trio as part of their bizarre and fanatical doomsday beliefs.
Lori and Chad, who are believed to be members of a radical cult, appear to believe in a “light and dark rating system” to assess the purity of the spirits of those around them, according to prosecutors.
Over time, the pair apparently became convinced that JJ, Tylee and Tammy were all possessed by dark spirits and the only way to rid them of their “demons” was to kill them.
Lori is also facing charges in Arizona for the shooting of Charles Vallow.
This week, Vallow’s only surviving child, Colby Ryan, took the stand to testify against her.
She was seen forming the words “Oh my baby” as he approached the bench.
Colby revealed to jurors a series of text messages he received from Tylee’s phone number in the weeks following her death, which he believed at the time had been written by someone else.
An emotional prison call between Colby and Vallow was also played in the crowded courtroom after the bodies of JJ and Tylee were found.
“Do you think you can hide from me?” Colby asks her in the recording.
When Vallow says he’s the one who didn’t want to talk to her, he replies, “Probably because you murdered my siblings.”
“I’ve prayed for you in my worst moments, I’ve prayed for my siblings who you swore would be okay,” he continues.
“I thought I could trust you. I thought you were a completely different person […] You ripped my heart out, you ripped everyone’s heart out.”