Warning Signs in the Custody Battle for Tylee Ryan [DOCS]

Vivian Lewis, Tom Ware – Dateline NBC, Mommy Doomsday

“When you think about it, the children could be alive today had this gone just a little bit differently 13 to 14 years ago.” – Vivian Lewis, Dateline episode Mommy Doomsday



During the four year custody battle over Tylee Ryan between Lori Vallow and Joe Ryan, the Court temporarily ordered that Mr. Ryan would have supervised visits with Tylee.

On July 25, 2007, Vivian Lewis, one of the appointed therapists involved in the custody battle wrote a letter to the Court about her concerns regarding Lori’s reaction to her recommendations.  “I am deeply concerned and consider the situation to one labeled as “eminent dangerof a flight risk.  As well, Ms. Vallow is a devout Mormon who has mentioned to me that death would be an option before giving Tylee to the father, Mr. Joseph Ryan, even for a visit. These are real and serious concerns. I have no way of knowing if Ms. Vallow was serious, but these are a close repeat of her statement to me.”[sic]

In her letter, Ms. Lewis provided recommendations to have a Constable and a social worker, or Mr. Ware whom Tylee was already familiar, go to the home to get Tylee for the scheduled visits with Joe. She recommended this as a way to ease the tension of the exchanges.

Ms. Lewis submitted these concerns to the Court just eleven days prior to Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, assaulted Joe Ryan on August 5, 2007. The attack happened in the parking lot at Kids Exchange immediately after the first supervised visit that Joe Ryan had with Tylee.  Kids Exchange is the agency that monitors the supervised visits. Mr. Ryan was struck three times with a taser like weapon and shoved to the ground causing a wrist fracture. Alex Cox subsequently pleaded guilty to 2nd degree aggravated assault and served three months in jail.

The custody case had been set to go to trial on September 24, 2007.  After the assault, Joe Ryan’s attorney filed a Motion for Continuance.  Shortly after this, the Court ordered a new Guardian Ad Litem to the case, Mary Fogel. In her letter to the Court on September 27, 2007 she confirms what an extremely volatile situation it was for Tylee and that one of the contributing factors was that there had not yet been a workable visitation order outlined in the case. The custody case had been going on for almost two years at that point.



Alex Cox wasn’t the only person helping Lori throughout the custody battle.  Charles Vallow, her fourth husband whom she was married to at the time, said he was willing to “go to whatever extent is needed to get the best results for Tylee.” In July 2006, one year prior to the assault on Joe Ryan, Charles wrote to Joe using Lori’s email account:














Note: Wicked Truths and F-bombs (WTAF) obtained the court documents for the contentious custody battle between Charles Vallow and his ex-wife, Cheryl Wheeler, for their two boys. The two custody cases intertwined with each other.  Stay tuned for additional blog posts about this!

A few months after the assault on Joe Ryan, Ms. Fogel continued to express concerns about ongoing situations related to visitations and the ongoing destructive pattern. In a letter to all parties involved in the case in February 2008, she outlines disturbing statements made by Tylee. Knowing what we know today, it is alarming that a six year old would have used the words “burn my whole family and kill us all.”  In addition, Ruth Dulansky, one of the supervisors of the visits, also reported being concerned about Tylee being lethargic, bringing up the possibility of Tylee being over medicated or kept up far too late the previous night. Tylee was also experiencing back pain and she said it was because of the trampoline.


Head over to this CrimeOnline article for more details and to follow the tweets by Law & Crime Network’s Cathy Russon:   https://www.crimeonline.com/2020/07/07/tylee-ryan-told-therapist-her-father-molested-her-while-mom-lori-vallow-said-she-would-choose-death-over-giving-tylee-to-dad-joseph-ryan-docs/

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