Lori Vallow Daybell, whose double murder trial opens Monday in Boise, Idaho, looked like a grown-up California beach girl and was so charismatic that she collected husbands and adoring best friends with ease.
Police believe she even got her brother to act as her personal hitman.
Vallow, 49, a one-time hairstylist who was born in San Bernardino, California, and raised a Mormon, loved her kids and was a wonderful mother, several friends said.
But then she became involved in a doomsday cult led by Chad Daybell, a novelist, podcaster and Mormon prepper from Utah who wrote about the second coming of Jesus Christ, demons, near-death experiences and the coming apocalypse — and who became her fifth husband.
Both Vallow and Daybell were married when they met at one of Daybell’s events in 2018, but the two soon became romantically linked, according to authorities.
After Vallow moved to Idaho with her kids — daughter Tylee Ryan and adopted son Joshua “JJ” Vallow — to be with Daybell, prosecutors claim the couple decided the kids were “zombies” and had them murdered. According to two books about the case and court documents, this was allegedly so Tylee and Joshua could be “free” of the dark spirits that possessed them.
“In her belief system, her kids’ spirits are trapped,” a friend of Vallow who only wanted to be identified as “Jes” told News Nation last week.
“They couldn’t go to heaven. And they can’t go back in their body. The only way they can go to heaven is if you kill the body. When these people have these beliefs, killing the kids to them is mercy. And as disturbing as that is, and as hard as it is to wrap your mind around it, that’s why someone who spent all these years being kind and loving could then do that.”
Despite her arrest, Vallow has never seemed to lack confidence or shown any public remorse or sorrow about her dead children. She and Daybell have pleaded not guilty to murder, conspiracy and grand theft charges in connection with the deaths of Tylee and JJ.
Even after Tylee, then 16, and JJ, 7, were reported missing in Sept. 2019, their mother and Daybell seemed unconcerned about their whereabouts — refusing to tell police for 10 months where they were, despite national headlines about the case.
Vallow flashed a smile from the back of a police cruiser, like a movie star caught by the paparazzi, when she was finally arrested during a vacation in Kauai, Hawaii, in Feb. 2020 in connection with her children’s disappearance.
“I’ve done everything to protect them, their whole lives, as you know,” Vallow said, referring to Tylee and JJ, over the phone from jail to her eldest son Colby Ryan, the 2022 Netflix series, “Sins of Our Mother.” “I’m sorry that you don’t really fully understand the situation … You will see one day.”
When dogged police investigators searched the grounds of Daybell’s home in Rexburg, Idaho, on June 9, 2020, they found JJ buried in a makeshift pet cemetery. Tylee’s remains were dismembered and burned in a fire pit nearby.
Vallow and Daybell are also charged in connection with the October 2019 death of Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell. (They have pleaded not guilty.) Vallow also faces separate charges in Arizona in connection with the July 2019 death of her previous husband, Charles Vallow, who was shot to death by her brother Alex Cox, who claimed self-defense. (She has pleaded not guilty.)
No criminal charges were filed at the time, but Arizona authorities now claim that text message records show Vallow conspired with her sibling to kill Charles. (Alex died in December 2019.) Prosecutors are not charging Daybell in the death of Charles Vallow.
Tammy was originally believed to have died of natural causes, but an autopsy led police to believe she was killed.
Vallow and Daybell eloped to Hawaii two weeks after Tammy’s untimely demise.
In the twisted, complex family saga that led to Vallow’s trial, some people blame Daybell, the author of extremist, end-times books based on some of the most fringe and forbidden elements of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), for turning the once “kind and loving” Lori into what many call the “Doomsday Mom.”
Others speculate that the one-time beauty pageant winner’s glossy, and by turns sexy and maternal, exterior hid a sociopathic interior — one that left a trail of dead bodies behind her.
“None of this would’ve happened if Lori Vallow had never come into my family’s life,” Emma Murray, one of Chad Daybell’s five children with Tammy, told CBS News last year.
Vallow, in fact, had a far more checkered past than Chad Daybell when they met.
In “The Doomsday Mother: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and the End of an American Family” (St. Martin’s), true-crime author and journalist John Glatt traces Lori Vallow’s history of failed relationships, including her toxic marriage to her third husband, Joseph Ryan.
During a bitter custody battle over Colby, her brother Alex ambushed Ryan and Tasered him.
Cox is also thought to have been instrumental in the actual killings of Tylee and JJ. The children were last seen with him and police went to Daybell’s backyard to look for their bodies after Alex’s cellphone records showed pinging at the spot.
In Glatt’s book, he references a childhood friend of Vallow who recalled her parents as eccentric — and, she added, Vallow complained that Alex wanted to have sex with her.
Later, a woman named Debbie who Cox had been briefly married to in 1992, told police in Chandler, Arizona, that the siblings had a disturbing relationship even as adults.
“There was just a lot of crazy dynamics in that family back then and it caused a lot of issues right away. It actually made me scared and nervous,” she said, acording to a police report cited by East Idaho News.
Debbie said the brother and sister would simulate sex acts in front of the family, according to the police report.
“He also talked about [how she was] hot, and he sexualized her quite a bit. He did touch her breast and things,” Debbie said to police. “Alex and I only lived together married about four or five months. Then I just knew that family was too weird and that I made a big mistake, so I got out.”
Lori’s fourth marriage, to businessman Charles Vallow, was, by all accounts, a happy one. They were living in Arizona when she began reading Daybell’s books, however, and before long had turned into a “superfan,’ her friend April Raymond said.
“That’s how I first heard about Chad from Lori,” Raymond told ABC News in 2021. “She would talk about this author she was interested in and how she connected with his work.”
Daybell was part of a group called Preparing the People, one of a number of semi-secretive groups in eastern Idaho whose members considered themselves LDS but whose beliefs were on the fringes and, in some cases, outlawed by the church.
In Daybell’s early adulthood, he appeared to be a mild-mannered copy editor and grave digger who had five kids with his wife and had no record of violent behavior.
But author Glatt said that Daybell had married too young and was looking for adventure and a new chapter when he met Vallow.
When he met her, Daybell allegedly told Vallow they had lived many lives together.
“Chad wasn’t really the devoted family man he claimed to be,” Glatt told The Post. “He was bored with [wife] Tammy, and when he met Lori he was mesmerized by what he saw as this gorgeous blond dream girl who had read all of his books and enjoyed them.”
Vallow and Daybell were originally set to be tried together but a judge ruled against prosecutors who were trying to seek the death penalty for her. Daybell, whose trial date has not been set yet, was not so lucky.
A new Idaho law taking effect July 1 will permit the use of firing squads in the state. JJ’s grandfather Larry Woodcock told News Nation last week that he “absolutely” wants Daybell to die by firing squad. (Larry’s wife, Kay, is JJ’s biological grandmother and they legally took care of the boy until he was adopted by Vallow and her fourth husband, Charles.)
As the defense focuses on the media coverage of the case, prosecutors warned jurors that they may have to see the autopsy photos of the dead children during the trial.
The trial is expected to last about 8-10 weeks.
The post ‘Doomsday Mom’ Lori Vallow murder trial: Everything you need to know appeared first on New York Post.