Idaho Falls news, Rexburg news, Pocatello news, East Idaho news, Idaho news, education news, crime news, good news, business news, entertainment news, Feel Good Friday and more.
REXBURG — Rick Robinson will never forget walking into an apartment on Pioneer Road in Rexburg on Jan. 21, 2020.
As a real estate agent, he was hired by the property owner to list the unit so Robinson wanted to check it out. He and his business partner had sold many apartments at the same complex so he didn’t think anything of it until he entered No. 175.
“I’ve been through thousands of homes but the second I walked into that place, it was just the darkest, creepiest feeling. You felt like you could cut the air with a knife,” Robinson recalls. “It was the weirdest thing. I’ve never felt this way when walking into a house and I remember just turning on lights because it almost felt like nothing would brighten that place up.”
Robinson didn’t know Lori Vallow had been living in the apartment, which was empty and spotless. On that day, she was in Hawaii with her new husband Chad Daybell. Robinson had seen the news that her children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, were missing but didn’t make the connection this was her place until he entered the garage.
“The last place I went was into the garage and that’s when I saw that box with JJ on it,” he tells EastIdahoNews.com. “All of a sudden, it just kind of dawned on me and I’m like, ‘No way. This can’t be the place.’”
Robinson pulled out his phone and took a photo of the box but forgot about it over the years until Thursday when David Warwick testified during Lori Vallow Daybell’s murder trial.
Warwick described visiting Daybell at her apartment with Melanie Gibb, his girlfriend at the time, the weekend of Sept. 20, 2019. It was the first and only time he met JJ, Lori’s 7-year-old son. He was playing with toys and Warwick tried to interact with him.
“He had a cardboard box and was cutting doors and windows out of it – making a home out of it,” Warwick said during his trial testimony. “I got next to him and tried talking to him but … he was very focused on that and didn’t acknowledge me at all.”
Police say JJ was killed that weekend and buried on Chad Daybell’s property.
Robinson was reading EastIdahoNews.com updates about the trial Thursday when he saw Warwick’s testimony about the cardboard box and instantly remembered the photo on his phone.
“It was the little cardboard house that he was cutting out with his name on it. There were probably four or five other boxes behind that (in the garage),” Robinson says. “Then it dawned on me that when I walked into the apartment, the front door jam was broken.”
Detectives testified they used force to break the door open when serving a search warrant at the property.
Robinson shared the picture with EastIdahoNews.com including the date stamp that shows it was taken Jan. 21, 2020. Four days later, we confronted Vallow and Daybell in Hawaii about JJ and Tylee’s whereabouts. The children were eventually found on Daybell’s property in June 2020.
After his initial visit to the Rexburg apartment in January 2020, Robinson says he made sure never to go back alone because it was the “darkest” place he’s ever been.
“There was something in that place that was just pure evil. That’s the only way I can describe it,” he says.
Watch our entire interview with Robinson in the video player above.
SUBMIT A CORRECTION