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'Doomsday Cult' Mom Lori Vallow Daybell Found Guilty of Murdering Children, Conspiring To Kill Lover's Wife
The jury took less than two days to find Vallow Daybell guilty of murdering her two children, Tylee Ryan and J.J. Vallow, as well as her current husband's former wife, Tammy Daybell.
The years-long legal proceedings surrounding accused killer Lori Vallow Daybell have ended with a verdict.
Vallow Daybell was found guilty across the board Friday by an Ada County jury in Idaho for the first-degree murders of her children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her current husband’s former wife, Tammy Daybell. She was also found guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit murder for her children's deaths, as well as grand theft by deception.
The jury needed less than two days to deliver a verdict.
Vallow Daybell, who showed no discernible emotion as the verdict was read, now faces up to life in prison for the crimes, which continue to draw massive public attention due, in part, to the case’s twists and turns. She'll be sentenced at a later date.
Vallow Daybell’s husband, Chad Daybell, is also charged with killing Vallow Daybell’s children and his former wife but will be tried separately. He's pleaded not guilty.
Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood cited “money, power, and sex” for why Vallow Daybell murdered her children, that she was influenced by the end-of-days-style teachings of Daybell, who’d authored books featuring extremist religious beliefs about the apocalypse and zombies,.
The young siblings were last spotted at separate times in September 2019: Tylee, on Sept. 9 while at Yellowstone National Park, and J.J., last seen on Sept. 22 at the elementary school he attended in Rexburg, Idaho – about 250 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
On Oct. 19, 2019, Chad Daybell’s first wife, Tammy, was believed to have died in her sleep at their former Idaho home. The results of a December 2019 exhumation resulted in authorities changing the cause of death from natural causes to asphyxiation in April, according to NBC Salt Lake City affiliate KSL-TV.
In November 2019, two weeks after Tammy Daybell’s death, Lori and Chad Daybell tied the knot in Hawaii, with still no sign of Daybell Vallow’s daughter and son.
Madison County prosecutors said the accused parties used Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, to help carry out the crimes. However, Cox died in December 2019, reportedly of bilateral pulmonary thromboembolism with hypertensive cardiovascular disease.
Cox’s wife testified during the trial that Cox expressed fears he’d be the “fall guy” after learning from the Daybells that investigators planned to exhume Tammy Daybell’s body.
In July 2019 – six months before Cox died and just two months before the children disappeared - Cox had killed Vallow Daybell’s fourth husband and J.J.’s biological father, Charles Vallow, in Chandler, Arizona. Cox claimed he shot his brother-in-law in self-defense and was never charged in connection to his death. However, Lori Vallow Daybell now faces additional charges of conspiracy in her former husband's death.
By November 2019, Vallow Daybell and her new husband had gone to Hawaii, never reporting Tylee or J.J. missing. However, Vallow Daybell kept cashing checks made out to the children for their fathers' respective deaths (Tylee’s father and Vallow Daybell’s third husband, Joseph Ryan, died in 2018 of natural causes, according to Law and Crime).
In June 2020, the children’s bodies were found buried on Chad Daybell’s property in Rexburg.
Prosecutor Wood, in his May 11 closing arguments, reminded jurors of the grisly details behind the children’s deaths.
“Tylee’s body was burned beyond recognition,” said Wood. “Her body was dismembered in such a grotesque and extreme manner,” so much so that a cause of death could not be determined, though marks on her pelvic region indicated stab wounds.
Investigators believe J.J. – who lived with special needs - was killed weeks later.
“J.J. Vallow’s voice was forever silenced by a strip of duct tape over his mouth,” Wood continued. “A white plastic bag was placed over his head and secured with duct tape around and around from his forehead to his chin.”
Relatives and former friends claimed Vallow Daybell had killed her children because she believed they were “possessed and had become zombies,” according to NBC News. She also adhered to beliefs surrounding “dark and light portals.”
Vallow Daybell’s defense attorney, Jim Archibald, argued in his closing arguments that his client was a loving mother who fell under the spell of her fifth husband.
“Why can’t people escape religious cult figures, why can’t they break out, why can’t they break away from that mind control?” he asked. “Promises are marvelous to some people, even if they sound like stupid gibberish to the rest of us.”
Chad Daybell allegedly convinced Vallow Daybell that she was a “sexual goddess” tasked with helping him save a select 144,000 for Christ’s return, a number significant in the Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints.