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Lori Vallow has been declared unfit to stand trial in a psychological assessment, putting a hold on the case against her just days after prosecutors charged her with first-degree murder in the deaths of her children.
District Judge Steven Boyce issued an order staying the case Thursday, referencing a psychological assessment that concluded the Idaho mom was “not competent to proceed,” according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
According to Boyce, Vallow’s fitness to stand trial was drawn into question by defense attorneys in March, who requested a competency evaluation.
An order to conduct the evaluation, initially under seal, was issued March 8.
A licensed clinical psychologist later completed the psychological assessment and reported the findings to the court.
“The completed assessment determined that at this time the Defendant is not competent to proceed, and recommends restorative treatment,” Boyce wrote.
Boyce noted that prosecutors have “contested the finding” and ordered a hearing to further discuss the decision, but said that “the stay in this case remains in effect pending the determination of the issue of competency.” The stay was issued for both ongoing cases against Vallow in Freemont County.
Prosecutors announced first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges against Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, earlier this week for the deaths of Vallow’s children Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7.
The couple was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell, who died at her home on Oct. 19, 2019, according to an indictment in the case obtained by Oxygen.com.
Daybell alone is facing first-degree murder charges for Tammy’s death.
Vallow was previously charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence in June of 2020, shortly after her children’s bodies were discovered buried on Daybell’s property.
Before her arrest, Vallow had allegedly been deeply emmeshed in a religious group preparing for the end of the world, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Vallow’s friend Melanie Gibb told investigators that Vallow began to embrace many of the religious ideas promoted by Daybell, a doomsday author, and became convinced that many of her family members—including her JJ and Tylee—had become “zombies.”
Gibb described “zombies” as a term used to describe someone whose spirit had left their body and been replaced instead by a “dark spirit.”
“At some point after Gibb first learned of this doctrine from Vallow and Daybell, she was informed by Daybell and Vallow that they believed it was their mission to rid the world of zombies,” Lt. Ron Ball wrote in the probable cause statement.
During another conversation, Vallow allegedly told her friend that such a person's original spirit was trapped in “limbo” and unable to go to “paradise” unless their physical body had died, according to the court documents.
The couple also allegedly believed they were part of the “Church of Firstborn” and their mission was to lead the “144,000” mentioned in the Book of Revelations after an impending apocalypse.
Tylee and JJ both disappeared weeks apart in September of 2019. Daybell’s first wife Tammy, a school librarian, died the next month.
Just two weeks after Tammy's death, Vallow and Daybell got married in Hawaii.
Authorities began to look into the children’s disappearances later that month after getting a request from JJ’s concerned grandparents to conduct a welfare check on the 7-year-old.
Daybell appeared virtually in court Wednesday for his initial appearance on the latest murder charges against him. When asked by Judge Faren Eddins if he could hear the proceedings, he smiled and appeared to laugh before telling the judge yes, according to The New York Post.
Vallow also appeared briefly in court via Zoom, wearing a blue face mask and blue long-sleeve shirt, but the hearing was delayed due to what her attorney referred to as “exigent circumstances.”
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