GILBERT, Ariz. — Some of the girls at the memorial held in Gilbert Thursday night had known Tylee Ryan for most of their lives.
They were devastated when she disappeared and crushed when she and her brother were found dead earlier this month.
“I mean I had been texting her, so it was weird to be like, ‘Oh, that was why she wasn’t responding,’” Tylee’s friend Maddie Nemeth explained.
Tylee’s three best friends didn’t know where she was for months or what happened to her and why their friend stopped talking to them.
“All of us were really confused and didn’t know what was going on, and it was just really hard,” Tiegan Heuser said.
Then came the worst news they could get came on June 9.
“Did you know they found Tylee and JJ?” Heuser recalled being asked that day. “And I was like, ‘No are they okay?’ And she was like they were buried.”
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Tylee and JJ Vallow vanished shortly after their mother Lori Vallow moved to Idaho. She then married Chad Daybell after both their spouses died under suspicious circumstances.
When the kids’ grandparents started to ask where the kids were, Chad and Lori disappeared too.
They resurfaced in Hawaii without the kids.
"They've been missing for four months. You have nothing to say, please give them back to us," they publicly plead to Chad and Lori.
Lori was arrested and extradited to Idaho. A matter of weeks later, investigators found JJ and Tylee’s remains at their stepfather’s house.
Lori is facing charges of desertion while Chad with concealing evidence. So far, prosecutors have not charged either in the deaths of the children.
Tylee’s friends wanted a way for everyone to remember them with pictures hanging in the park or tied to trees.
They picked a spot within sight of the Gilbert temple which was a special place for Tylee and her friends.
“That was Tylee’s happy place,” her friends said.
“We would always go on late-night drives, and we would go and blast music and hang out and she had this great sarcasm she was so funny,” Heuser explained.
“They always made me laugh,” Nemeth said. “I was never sad when I was with them.”
Now their smiles can only come from pictures of happier times.
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