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'Yes, She Was Switched': Jurors Hear Bizarre Text Messages Lori Vallow Allegedly Sent about Her Kids as Trial Nears End
Closing arguments are set to begin in Lori Vallow Daybell's trial for the murders of her two children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua "J.J." Vallow.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers representing Vallow Daybell are expected to deliver closing statements on Thursday after testimony concluded following more than four weeks of rollercoaster trial proceedings.
Jurors on Wednesday had the day off, as the state and attorneys for Vallow Daybell sparred over jury instruction, according to the East Idaho News.
Vallow Daybell is standing trial for the murders of 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, who first disappeared in 2019. The siblings’ bodies were found on her husband Chad Daybell’s property in 2020. He is also facing murder charges in the children's deaths and will be tried separately.
Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell have pleaded not guilty to the double murder. Vallow Daybell faces life in prison if convicted.
Over the course of 26 days of court proceedings, jurors heard testimony from investigators, forensic experts, as well as a number of former friends and family members of Vallow Daybell’s. Prosecutors have contended that the couple, who were fixated on apocalyptic prophecies, killed J.J. and Tylee in part over their extremist religious views, which included beliefs in dark spirits and zombies.
Prior to testimony wrapping up, body camera footage of Vallow Daybell was played in court, showing her being served a subpoena by the Kauai Police Department while relaxing in a bikini alongside a shirtless Chad Daybell. The video was admitted as evidence during Vallow Daybell’s trial last week.
The subpoena had ordered Vallow Daybell to surrender her children to social services in Idaho within five days, per East Idaho News.
On Monday, an ex-FBI agent testified about text messages Vallow Daybell and Daybell exchanged prior to the deaths of J.J. and Tylee. Some of the texts referenced a purported rating scale that Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell allegedly used, which supposedly indicated whether a person had been inhabited by dark spirits — or were zombies.
“Need you to check jj,” Vallow Daybell wrote Chad Daybell on July 23, 2019. “Weird stuff happened in the middle of the night. It’s like they distracted us with Blake.”
She added: “When you get home, Check Tylee. She is being super sweet and helpful and she cleaned her room. See if she got switched. Totally not her.”
Chad Daybell later responded, “Yes. she was switched. Please let me know when you can talk, and I will explain it.”
Vallow Daybell kept her head down and took notes in the courtroom while prosecutors played a series of messages between the couple.
Chad Daybell later referred to J.J. as a “2,” on the rating scale, per East Idaho News.
According to the couple’s bizarre conspiracy-rooted beliefs, the closer someone got zero, the closer they were to death, FBI agent Douglas Hart testified.
"[Two] and 3 percent?," Lori said in response in the July 30, 2019 conversation. "Not zero?"
Upwards of a week later, Lori Vallow Daybell again questioned whether her son was nearing zero.
"He was just up talking nonsense for like 2 hours last night," she said in additional text messages. "I'm sure they were bugging him. Is he at zero yet? I miss you."
"Yes, he's at zero," Chad replied, according to the East Idaho News. "He probably was partly through the veil, talking to people both light and dark."
Lori Vallow Daybell later referenced a “perfectly orchestrated plan to take the children.”
"Do you think there is a perfectly orchestrated plan to take the children?," she asked her husband. "And we just have to wait for it to be carried out? I feel lost like I should be doing something to help."
Prosecutors said the messages further point to the premeditated nature of J.J. Vallow and Tylee Ryan's slayings.
Vallow Daybell is also charged with conspiracy in the murder of Chad Daybell’s ex-wife, Tammy Daybell.