Lori Vallow Seemed Like 'Supermom' Before Kids Vanished and Were Later Found Dead, Says Friend

To her neighbors in Hawaii, Lori Vallow seemed like the perfect wife and mother.

Outgoing and friendly, she and her then-husband, Charles, moved onto the island of Kauai in 2014, where they started Juice Island, a beachside smoothie bar. While Charles tended to the business, Lori had ample time to dote on her two young children, taking then-preteen Tylee to birthday parties and watching toddler J.J. ride his tricycle around the block.

"She seemed like a supermom," says former neighbor Leigh Tucker in the newest issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday. "She was always well put together. Dressed nicely, organized, unflappable. I wanted to be just like her."

But in 2018, everything changed. That's when Vallow met Chad Daybell, a doomsday writer and self-proclaimed prophet who focused on the end times. According to friends and family, that fateful meeting changed Vallow's life — and the case is examined in depth in the latest issue of PEOPLE and on Thursday's episode of PEOPLE (the TV show!)

Shortly after meeting Daybell, Vallow's behavior became erratic, those close to her say. She started focusing on end times prophecy, and even allegedly told her sister-in-law that she considered driving her children off a cliff.

And then, in September 2019, her friends and family's worst fears came true when J.J. and Tylee vanished.

J.J. was last seen on September 23, 2019 in Rexburg, Idaho, when Vallow withdrew him from school, telling the principal she planned to homeschool him. Tylee was last seen at a Sept. 8 day trip to Yellowstone National Park. After they hadn't heard from the children in months, his grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock, called authorities.

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But Vallow and Daybell would not give answers. In January, authorities gave Lori Vallow five days to produce the children and prove they were safe. After she failed to do that, she was arrested.

In June 2020, authorities made a grisly discovery: the charred, buried remains of both children on Daybell's property.

As authorities began investigating the case, they learned of more suspicious deaths surrounding Vallow. Police are currently investigating the 2018 death of her third husband, Joseph Ryan, whose death was previously ruled a heart attack.

Vallow's fourth husband, Charles — who was Kay Woodcock's brother — was shot to death during a July 2019 altercation by Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, who claimed he was acting in self-defense and was never charged. Three months later, Daybell's wife, Tammy, was found dead in her bed — a death police later called "suspicious."

Her body has been exhumed.

Cox was later found dead under mysterious circumstances.

Vallow has been charged with desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, contempt of court and willful disobedience of court process or order. Daybell was charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence and two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.

They have both pleaded not guilty to all charges. More charges could be pending. An attorney for Vallow and Daybell has not returned PEOPLE's calls for comment.

The couple has not been charged in connection with any of the deaths of their family members.

"I can't wrap my mind around all the things they say she did," Tucker tells PEOPLE. "It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

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