REXBURG, ID (3TV/CBS 5) - A member of the religious group that follows Chad Daybell is speaking out to CBS 5 Investigates about the group's views, practices and its controversial leader.
Chad Daybell was an author of doomsday-themed books who did not have much exposure outside Mormon circles and the community of "preppers," who stockpile food and supplies in case of mass disaster.
But that all changed when he met and later married Lori Vallow. Like Daybell, Vallow claimed to see the end of times. In July, Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed her husband Charles. The case was originally considered self-defense, but remains under investigation.
At the beginning of September, Vallow moved to Rexburg, Idaho with two of her children, Tylee Ryan and Joshua Vallow. Tylee has not been seen since a family trip to Yellowstone National Park in the beginning of the month. Joshua has not been seen since late September.
In October, Chad Daybell's wife, Tammy, died in her sleep. Police are now investigating that death. Daybell and Vallow were married two weeks later. They have refused to cooperate with investigators who are looking for Tylee and Joshua.
In December, Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, died suddenly. His death is under investigation.
On Saturday, a member of the religious group that follows Vallow and Daybell spoke to CBS 5 Investigates. We are concealing her identity to protect her from possible harassment.
She said both she and Daybell communicate with spirits, and that they are true Mormons. She said they stockpile food and supplies because the world will come to an end. And she said she will not judge Daybell, because all people are sinners.
She referred to her organization as a cult, but it was unclear whether she was being sarcastic. When asked what the group was called, she said "Preparing a People."
That is the name of a media organization, which held events and hosted podcasts, which, at times, featured Daybell and Vallow. But in an email exchange, the owner of the organization's parent company stated that there is no connection between Preparing a People and any cult or occult activity.
"Life is sacred to us. We are innocent of any involvement in Chad or Lori’s personal lives (and never knew Lori or any family members). Our relationship was mostly business, both owning our own separate businesses. We have wondered if Chad/Lori used us for their media purposes, without us knowing what was going on behind the scenes. It does feel like a big betrayal, and probably to anyone who attended our events," stated Nancy James.
She also stated that Preparing a People no longer holds events.
One prominent critic of fringe groups with connections to the Mormon religion is Flora Jessop. She escaped from Warren Jeffs' polygamous community and helped others escape as well.
"There’s always going to be the ability to take scripture and use it for your own gain, which is what these people are doing," said Jessop.
She says Vallow and Daybell are taking cues from a familiar playbook.
"They go to church. They're members of the church. They recruit from the church. This is not a secret organization," said Jessop.
CBS 5 Investigates reached out to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked if the church was making any statements regarding Vallow and Daybell, and whether the church allowed the couple's group to use church facilities.
The response was brief.
"I am letting you know that we received your inquiry, but we don’t have anything to offer on this. Thanks for checking," wrote Sam Penrod, who is the media relations manager for the church communications department.