On Monday Rexburg residents gathered at Kennedy Elementary for a candlelight vigil to celebrate the eighth birthday of J.J. Vallow. The vigil also served as reminder that J.J. and his sister Tylee have been missing since September, 2019.
Janeese Summers, a concerned community member, organized the event.
“We just wanted to be able to celebrate J.J.’s birthday and let their family know that we as a community are supporting them and that we still remember that Tylee and J.J. are missing,” she said.
A group of about 25 residents attended the vigil.
“It breaks my heart, as a parent and a grandparent, with what’s going on with these two little kids,” said Ruth Clark, of Rexburg. “I just want justice done for them. I want them brought back home. It breaks my heart whenever I hear Larry or Kay talk or Colby. And I just don’t know what kind of an animal for a mother would do what she’s done. It’s just totally unfathomable. I can’t even imagine. We’re just here for the support of the kids and the grandparents.”
Some of J.J.’s classmates attended the event. They included Dani Call, Brianna Goff, Scarlet Bronson and Sierra Deming.
When asked what they would say to J.J. if he could hear them the girls replied:
“I miss you...I hope I can see you again... Happy birthday... You’re a good friend.”
Deming,7,said J.J. loved of ducks.
“He was in my class,” she said. “I had him in my class for a month and then he was homeschooled and then he went missing. He was fun and he liked ducks.”
When asked why she was at the vigil Monday, Deming said it was to celebrate his birthday with friends.
“I want him to get found,” she said. “And I hope (he) can be in my class next year.”
Members of the Rexburg Police Department also attended the vigil and sang happy birthday with the crowd.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” said Lt. Ron Ball of the Rexburg Police Department. “It’s nice to see the community come out and support J.J. We don’t want his memory to run out of people’s heads. We don’t want them to forget, he’s still missing and we’re actively looking for him.”
Ball said they are constantly looking for leads and information on the case. He said Rexburg Chief Shane Turman has been a great support and encouraged them to do whatever it takes to find J.J. and Tylee.
Before “Happy Birthday” was sung, Jeanine Hansen read a statement written by the Vallow and Woodcock family.
“As you know, today is our beloved grandson J.J.’s eighth birthday,” the statement read. “His absence is sorely missed by his brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, Larry, me and the world. We were blessed with this special young man eight years ago. He has been a bright light and joy in our lives. The hope of seeing his sweet smiling face again is what gets us out of bed every day. Tylee, with her beautiful smile and endearing sisterly ways is our biggest hope they are being properly cared for. Lori and Chad, you can speak out to end this agony. We pray you feel the humanity and compassion God has instilled in you, to bring this nightmare to a close. It is the Christian thing to do. The Rexburg area has encompassed us with love and warmth. We now feel this is our second home. Just as Facebook has been instrumental in communicating our story to the world. Thank you to every person who has shared, copied, pasted pictures (and) stories, (and) in whatever way you have helped to keep this story in the forefront. It’s a worldwide effort to bring these two kids home. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Please let’s keep J.J. and Tylee at the forefront and your vigilance is very appreciated. We will never give up. Thanks and God bless each of you.
-The Vallow and Woodcock Family.”