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Crime News Family Crimes

Grandmother Of Slain 7-Year-Old Testifies Lori Vallow 'Didn't Want' Her Son Anymore

Kay Woodcock, the biological grandmother of slain 7-year-old J.J. Vallow, said that Lori Vallow was once a "doting mom." But even before divorcing, then allegedly killing ex-husband Charles Vallow, Woodcock testified, the mother shifted focus to her "Doomsday cult" and new husband Chad Daybell.

By Christina Coulter
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

Kay Woodcock, the biological grandmother of slain 7-year-old Joshua "J.J." Vallow, detailed Lori Vallow's shift in priorities from her children to her "Doomsday cult" on Monday, testifying that the accused murderer put her new husband ahead of caring for the autistic child.

Woodcock, the sister of Vallow’s fourth husband Charles Vallow, and her husband Larry, were the ones who first contacted police in November of 2019 after their once-regular phone calls with their grandson came to an abrupt halt, according to the New York Post. Charles and Lori Vallow were the adoptive parents of J.J.

RELATED: Money, Power, Sex: Attorney Says Slain Kids’ Mom Lori Vallow Daybell Used All 3

At the time, 49-year-old Vallow told police the child was staying with her friend Melanie Gibb in Arizona. However, the Nov. 26 welfare check sparked the months-long search that ultimately led police to the remains of JJ and his 16-year-old sister Tylee Ryan in June of 2020 on the Idaho property of Chad Daybell, Vallow's Doomsday prepper fifth husband.

Lori Vallow Daybell sits in a police car.

Vallow and Daybell, 54 — who both believe that the world is ending and the second coming of Christ is impending — now face multiple counts of conspiracy, murder and grand theft in connection with the children's deaths. They are being tried separately

Jurors in Vallow's current trial will decide whether she killed the children. Prosecutors also say that Vallow conspired with Daybell to kill his ex-wife Tammy Daybell, who died of asphyxiation in October of 2019. Vallow is also charged in Arizona with one felony count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder for the death of Charles Vallow, who was shot dead by Vallow's brother in July of 2019.

Woodcock, whose full testimony on Monday was published by East Idaho News, told the Ada County Court that her late brother sought to name her as a beneficiary and take Vallow off his insurance policy in February 2019, while his divorce was underway. Charles Vallow also entrusted her with ensuring that his two adult sons would take the other $500,000 of the life insurance payout. 

Joshua Vallow and Tylee Ryan

Woodcock said she vowed to take on raising the 7-year-old because "Lori didn't want him anymore," claiming that Vallow "left her husband and her child for 58 days."

Woodcock, who still had access to Charles Vallow's email accounts after he was fatally shot, testified that she was alarmed after she was woken by "divine intervention" around 4:30 a.m. one November morning and discovered activity on his Amazon account.

“I got into the browsing history of the Amazon account and I saw that there was browsing for a beach wedding dress, a bathing suit ... and malachite wedding rings,” Woodcock said.

Vallow and Daybell were married on a Hawaii beach on Nov. 5, 2019. Seventeen days after the purchase was made, allegedly on deceased Charles Vallow's account, Tammy Daybell died in her home. 

Woodcock said she last heard from her grandson J.J. via Facetime before the wedding, on Aug. 10. 

“That was a 35-second FaceTime … He said, ‘Hi Mama, hi Papa,'” Woodcock said, growing emotional.

Then, she said, the boy looked up at the person holding the camera and quickly said he had to go. 

She said that J.J. — who was removed from the custody of Woodcock's daughter in 2012 when drugs were found in his system at birth and cared for by Kay and Larry Woodcock before he was adopted by Lori and Charles Vallow in 2014, according to The Daily Mail — was not allowed to attend his father's funeral. 

The grandmother recalled hiring a private investigator to find her grandson in October of 2019, before she reported the boy missing and launched the nationwide, headline-grabbing search that led to the children's burial sites on Daybell's property.

Woodcock and her husband would later post a $20,000 reward for their grandson, according to the Idaho Statesman.

Before splitting with her brother, Woodcock recalled, Vallow was "just a doll" who was "very engaged" and "seemed to be the kind of mom that every mom wants to be," and that she and her husband eagerly let the Vallows adopt the boy because they had a "busy lifestyle" and were "family oriented."

"They had a much different lifestyle than Larry and I," she recalled. "All we did was work and go home."

Prosecutors also called on Brandon Bordeaux, previously married to Vallow's niece Melani Pawlowski, for testimony on Monday, according to The Independent. Pawlowski, Daybell and Vallow were all members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, he said, then gradually became more embroiled in Daybell's cult, called "Preparing a People" according to reporting by Insider

Things got worse when Pawlowski and Vallow began joining Daybell for "fireside chats" — informal religious meetings in which the group discussed the impending end of days. 

Before his death, Bordeaux said, Charles Vallow detailed Daybell's bizarre beliefs to family members and forwarded correspondences from Daybell via email to document his ex-wife's strange behavior.

The relative tearfully recounted identifying J.J.'s body for police after it was recovered. Bordeaux claims he was victim to a failed shooting on Oct. 2, 2019 during divorce proceedings with Vallow's niece and days after J.J. and Tylee vanished, according to Arizona Central. He attributes the divorce and the attempt on his life to his ex-wife's involvement in the doomsday cult.