Lori Vallow was once a devoted and loving mom, who built a life centered around the values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, relatives say.
But those who knew her said she had a “tectonic shift” in her life after meeting current husband and doomsday author Chad Daybell, ultimately leading to the arrests of both Vallow and Daybell last year.
The couple met in 2018 and have been surrounded by a string of mysterious deaths in the years that followed, including those of two of Vallow’s children, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, and each of their former spouses.
“I thought Lori was great, very loving,” Annie Cushing, her former sister-in-law, told People in a new interview. “But there was a tectonic shift in her, and she went over the edge.”
The change began, she said, after Vallow starting spending more time with Daybell.
Daybell wrote about end-of-the-world scenarios and his writings often appealed to a community of doomsday preppers, who stockpiled food and supplies to prepare for an impending disaster, local station KPHO reports.
Those who knew Vallow said she continued to delve deeper into the Daybell’s teachings after meeting the author at a “Preparing a People” conference, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Vallow began to discuss “zombies” or those “whose spirit has left their body and been replaced by another spirit,” and had a vision that her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, would die in a car accident, according to the affidavit.
Vallow’s friend Melanie Gibb later told investigators that Daybell and Vallow—who were each married to other people at the time—believed it was their mission “to rid the world of zombies” or dark spirits.
“I saw a change in 2018,” Larry Woodcock told People. “It was … just crazy. I couldn’t believe that she was falling for it.”
Woodcock is the biological grandparent of Vallow’s adopted son, JJ Vallow, and is married to Charles Vallow’s sister, Kay Woodcock.
The same year Daybell and Vallow met, a string of mysterious deaths began to take place, starting with the death of Vallow’s third husband, Joseph Ryan, in April 2018.
Although the couple was no longer married at the time, they shared daughter, Tylee Ryan.
The death was initially considered to be from natural causes, but Phoenix Police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune told Oxygen.com in November that the department was “reviewing the investigation” after a disturbing recording surfaced that allegedly captured Vallow talking about wanting to murder her ex.
The audio, provided by Cushing to The Post Register, was allegedly recorded during a “Preparing a People” meeting months after Joseph Ryan died, although Cushing would not reveal how she came into possession of the tape.
“I was going to murder him,” Valow allegedly said on the tape. “I was going to kill him. Like the scriptures say. Like Nephi killed. Just to stop the pain and to stop him coming after me and to stop him coming after my children.”
Vallow went on to say that she decided to turn to religion instead.
Her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, was shot to death the following year by her brother Alex Cox, who told authorities at the time that he was acting in self-defense.
Months before he died, Charles Vallow told a Gilbert Police officer that his wife had adopted increasingly bizarre religious beliefs and thought he had become inhabited by a dark spirit named “Nick Scheider.”
“She says, ‘You’re not Charles, I don’t know who you are, what you did to Charles, but I can murder you with my powers,'” Charles Vallow told police at the time, adding that he feared for the safety of his children, according to local station KSAZ-TV.
Cox died himself in December 2019 and no charges have ever been filed in Charles Vallow’s death.
Daybell’s wife, Tammy Daybell, was also found dead in her home in October 2019 under what authorities now believe were suspicious circumstances. Her body was later exhumed and the Idaho Attorney General’s Office is currently investigating both Vallow and Daybell in the sudden death, according to East Idaho News.
Vallow and Daybell got married in Hawaii two weeks after Tammy died.
Investigators also launched an extensive search for Lori Vallow’s two missing children, Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow, after they disappeared in September 2019. The search reached a heartbreaking conclusion in June when authorities discovered the remains of both children on Chad Daybell’s property. No one has been charged in the murder of the children; however, both Vallow and Daybell are facing other charges in connection with the case.
Vallow is facing charges of felony conspiracy to conceal evidence in the case, while Daybell is facing two counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence and felony conspiracy to conceal evidence charges.
The couple has pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
A judge ruled in October that the cases will be combined at trial.
Larry Woodcock told People the family is now just looking for answers.
“There are just so many unanswered questions that Kay and I have,” he said. “If [Vallow] would just be half-honest. She doesn’t even have to be completely honest. Just be half-honest and give us answers because we just don’t understand it.”
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.