“Cult mother” Lori Vallow is currently on trial in a case that has shocked the nation with its bizarre ties to the doomsday cult and the tragic deaths of nearly everyone close to the mother of three and her new husband Chad Daybell.
The 49-year-old woman is charged with the murders of her sons Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16, and with conspiring to murder Mr. Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell.
JJ and Tylee disappeared without a trace in September 2019, their mother refusing to reveal their whereabouts to authorities for many months.
A month after they were last seen alive, Tammy, a healthy 49-year-old woman, died suddenly and Mrs. Vallow and Mr. Daybell soon traveled to Hawaii to be married on the beach.
In June 2020, the remains of JJ and Tylee were found buried on the grounds of Mr. Daybell’s estate in Rexburg, Idaho, and the doomsday cult couple was eventually charged with murder.
Prosecutors allege that Ms. Vallow and Mr. Daybell conspired with Ms. Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, to murder Tammy, JJ and Tylee as part of their bizarre cult beliefs, but also for financial gain in order to collect the money from Tammy’s life insurance and the children’s social security. survivor benefits.
After long delays, due to the pandemic and Ms. Vallow’s admission to a mental health facility, her trial is finally underway in a courtroom in Boise, Idaho.
Here are the key revelations from the trial, so far:
‘Money, power and sex’
During opening statements, prosecutors said Ms Vallow was driven by “money, power and sex” to murder her two children and her new husband’s then-wife.
“Money, power and sex – that’s what this case is about,” Fremont County District Attorney Lindsey Blake said.
“Tylee had money. Lori wanted it. Tylee is gone. JJ took time and also lost his father. When he lost his father, it became much more difficult to take care of him. He was entitled to social security benefits. The defendant did not want to have to take care of JJ anymore. He had money. JJ is gone.
Ms Blake told the jury that the saga began in October 2018 when Ms Vallow and Mr Daybell first met in person at a religious conference.
Despite the fact that they were both married, their romance grew with Ms. Blake saying, “The defendant will remove any obstacle in her path to get what she wants, and she wanted Chad Daybell.”
Doomsday couple used cult beliefs to ‘justify’ murder
The doomsday couple allegedly used their cult beliefs to “justify” their actions, the prosecutor said in opening statements.
“He was here on a religious mission to gather the 144,000, so he needed to spend his time and energy there,” Ms. Blake said. “What he did on earth no longer counted for her.”
As part of their cult beliefs, they believed in a “light and dark classification system” to classify the spirits of the people around them.
Over time, this developed into the belief that some people, including children, were “zombies” and that the only way to get rid of zombies was to destroy the human body.
Tammy Daybell’s cause of death revealed
The cause of death of Mr. Daybell’s first wife, Tammy, was first revealed during opening statements.
Ms. Blake told the jury that Tammy, 49, died “at the hands of another and died of suffocation,” citing the Utah medical examiner.
Tammy died suddenly on October 19, 2019. Mr. Daybell refused an autopsy, despite his young age and lack of health problems, and his death was ruled natural causes.
The prosecutor said that 10 days before her death, Tammy had called 911 to report that someone had shot her in her driveway.
When Tammy died, Cox expressed concern that the doomsday couple would make him the “scapegoat” for her death.
One day after making that comment, on December 11, 2019, Cox also died suddenly at the age of 51. His death was also ruled natural causes, however, the Narcan overdose was also found in his system.
After the investigation into the missing children intensified, Tammy’s body was exhumed and an autopsy was carried out.
Sobbing Brandon Boudreaux testifies about children and gunshots
Ms. Vallow’s former nephew-in-law, Brandon Boudreaux, broke down in tears when he testified about the time he learned of JJ and Tylee’s deaths, and later had to identify JJ’s remains.
He was married to Mrs. Vallow’s niece, Melani Pawlowski, for ten years and was close to JJ and Tylee.
However, in 2018 he said things changed and “got weirder” when Ms Pawlowski became more involved in the doomsday cult with Ms Vallow and Mr Daybell.
The couple divorced and he was living in a new house when, on October 2, 2019, he was the victim of a failed shooting attempt. After that, he said that he began to investigate his estranged wife’s doomsday cult and learned that Mr. Daybell’s wife, Tammy, had also recently died.
Alarming Items Found in Vallow’s Garage
Rexburg Police Detective Ray Hermosillo testified how his officers found several alarming items during a search of Ms. Vallow’s home.
Arizona officials had raised the alarm about the disappearance of JJ and Tylee but, at that time, Ms. Vallow had moved the children from Arizona to Rexburg.
After being told the whereabouts of the children by Ms Vallow, Mr Daybell and Cox, police executed a search warrant at their home in November 2019.
In the garage, investigators found various weapons, ammunition, empty magazines, silencers, and army knives. There were also Hazmat-style suits and prep bags with emergency kits and a camouflage suit.
The search also found black garbage bags filled with clothes and papers, JJ’s toys, and prescription drugs.
He testified that Ms. Vallow appeared to have fled, leaving no clothes in her closets.
Graphic photos show JJ was buried in his pajamas
The graphic photos revealed that JJ was still wearing his red pajamas and an overnight diaper when his remains were found buried in a shallow grave on Mr. Daybell’s property on June 9, 2020.
JJ’s latest proof of life is a photo taken on September 22, 2019 that shows the little boy sitting on a sofa dressed in matching red pajamas.
Shocked jurors were shown pictures of JJ’s body found in the shallow grave, still wearing the red pajamas.
His arms were wrapped in duct tape and his head was wrapped in a white plastic bag with thick layers of duct tape around it. He had been partially covered with a blue children’s blanket before wooden paneling and three white stones were placed on top of him in the shallow grave.
Det Hermosillo told the court that search teams digging on the property were first startled by the “strong odor” of a decomposing body.
The team then discovered what “appeared to be the crown of a head”, later found to belong to JJ, sticking out of the ground. Tylee’s remains were later found not far from her younger brother’s, near a campfire in the property’s pet cemetery.
The state of Tylee’s remains meant that an autopsy was impossible.
Tylee’s body was so burned that it was impossible to perform an autopsy to determine her cause of death, jurors heard.
The 16-year-old had been dismembered, burned, and her body parts were scattered across the grounds.
“Eventually we discovered pieces of Tylee, who we assumed was Tylee, that had been burned. There were pieces of bone, charred meat, just pieces of meat that were falling apart,” she said.
Jurors gasped and JJ’s grandparents sobbed as harrowing footage was shown in the courtroom of both JJ’s burial site and autopsy.
At one point, Ms Vallow’s lawyers asked the judge to allow her to excuse herself from court while graphic testimony and photos were shown. The judge quickly denied the request.
Jail call reveals Daybell warning Vallow as police close in
Jurors heard a phone call at the jail where Mr. Daybell warned Ms. Vallow that the police were closing in on the day the remains of her children were discovered buried on her property.
In the call, made at 11:03 a.m. on June 9, 2020, Mr. Daybell is heard telling his new wife that police were on the scene searching his property in Rexburg, Idaho.
At the time, Ms. Vallow was behind bars in the Madison County Jail after she failed to comply with a court order to produce the children.
“They’re searching the property,” says a sad-sounding Mr. Daybell.
Later he adds: “So, we’ll see what happens.”
About an hour later, the remains of JJ and Tylee were discovered buried on Mr. Daybell’s property.