"Doomsday" cult mom Lori Vallow faces serious charges in connection to the disappearance of her two children, but she allegedly loved the media attention generated by her arrest, according to a woman who once shared a nearby cell.
“She was totally aware of all of it,” the woman said of the intense media attention the case has garnered in the months since Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, disappeared.
“’We have the death of Kobe Bryant and COVID but no—there’s me. I’m the lead story. I’m more important,’” the inmate recalled Vallow as saying.
The woman spoke with EastIdahoNews.com last week about the four days she shared with one of the country’s most infamous inmates in March—just after Vallow arrived in Idaho after being extradited from Hawaii and several months before her children’s bodies were discovered buried on the property of her husband, Chad Daybell.
The news outlet did not use the woman’s real name for privacy reasons but referred to her throughout the article as Missy Cook.
Cook had been booked into the Madison County Jail on a parole violation at the same time Vallow arrived at the facility on March 5.
“Everybody in the jail was talking about how Lori was coming back from Hawaii and we wondered if we’d be able to see her,” Cook recalled. “So, I’m sitting in the pod and in walks two or three guards with her. They were very nice and she was nice. She walked in with her stripes on but she also had a bulletproof vest on. I had never seen another inmate like that.”
For several days, both women were housed together in a segregated area of the jail that had two cells and a central area both women could use to watch TV, read books or make phone calls.
“I made it a point not to ask about her kids,” Cook said. “I wanted to gain her trust and see if she would tell me anything.”
Cook said despite the charges against her, Vallow appeared to be upbeat during the time they shared together and never cried or seemed distraught.
Cook told the news outlet she even gave Vallow beauty advice as Vallow got ready for her first court appearance, lending the Idaho mom some makeup, lotion and deodorant.
“So, she comes to the door and has on this bright pink lipstick. She said, ‘How does it look?’ I hesitantly paused and said, ‘Oh … you look good.’” Cook said. “I gave her some tips and said she could use a regular lead pencil to draw in her eyebrows and helped her get ready for court.”
After the court appearance, Cook said Vallow asked her to watch the media coverage with her.
“As the news came on, she said, ‘Here it comes! Here’s my story. Turn it up. Let’s see what they say about me now,’” Cook said of Vallow’s response.
Cook said Vallow spent most of her time talking with her lawyers or on the phone with Daybell or her oldest son Colby Ryan, who she spent “literally almost two days straight” on the phone with.
“He kept saying, ‘Mom, were are JJ and Tylee? Why won’t you tell us? What’s going on?’” Cook recalled.
Vallow was allegedly guarded in her response and told Colby to read the Book of Job in the Bible to understand.
“She said she was being tested like Job,” Cook told East Idaho News. “She would say, ‘Colby, just listen to me. Everyone wants to know, but it’s none of their business. God doesn’t judge me and they shouldn’t judge me.’”
Cook referred to the calls Vallow shared with Daybell as “nauseating” and said she wanted constant affirmation from her fifth husband, who she married in November 2019 just weeks after Daybell’s wife Tammy died.
Cook was moved out of the shared area after four days and was later transferred to another facility.
After she was released in August, Cook said she sent Vallow a message and got a response from her saying that she'd been “praying” for her, but they haven't communicated since.
Vallow still remains behind bars and is facing two felony charges of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence after the bodies of her two missing children were found buried on Daybell’s property in June.
Tylee’s charred remains were found buried near a pet cemetery on the property, while JJ was found still clad in his red pajamas, bound with duct tape and covered in plastic, according to earlier testimony in a preliminary hearing for Daybell.
Both children were last seen alive in September 2019, according to a probable cause statement obtained by Oxygen.com.
Daybell, a religious author whose work often focused on a fictionalized end of days, is also facing two counts of concealment of evidence and two counts of conspiracy to conceal evidence in connection with the case.
Last week, Daybell’s defense attorney John Prior asked that the trial be moved from Fremont County after concerns that he could not get a “fair and impartial jury” in the county, local station KSL reports. Prior plans to file additional papers and pleadings related to the request.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.