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‘It’s Life In Prison Or The Death Penalty’: Lori Vallow’s Nephew Weighs In On What He Thinks Needs To Happen To Her
“I just don’t have any empathy for Lori or anyone that thinks that, you know, she’s brainwashed or she’s not at fault,” Zac Cox said in the UCP Audio podcast “The Followers: Madness of Two.”
Lori Vallow’s nephew Zac Cox spent more than a year living with her and her family—but now says that he doesn’t have “any empathy” for the aunt who once offered him a home and believes she belongs behind bars.
“I just don’t have any empathy for Lori or anyone that thinks that, you know, she’s brainwashed or she’s not at fault,” he said in a new bonus episode of the UCP Audio podcast “The Followers: Madness of Two.”
Zac gained a unique insight into Lori and her family while living with her, her fourth husband Charles Vallow, and her kids Tylee Ryan and Joshua “JJ” Vallow from December of 2017 to January of 2019.
“That whole family was like a second family for me,” he said.
But Zac said he also saw his aunt, and uncle Alex Cox, spiraling deeper into a set of religious, doomsday beliefs promoted by Chad Daybell.
Zac said that Alex even offered him $100 to read one of Daybell’s fictional books, telling his nephew that the book had been “written by heaven” and delivered in “glowing white pages” to Daybell’s doorstep.
Zac told podcast host Sarah Treleaven that he needed the money and told Alex he read the book, but never actually read Daybell’s novel, which he described as being about someone who died and was trying to get their family to go back to church.
Around the same time, Zac said Lori was spending six hours a day at an LDS temple in Gilbert, Arizona.
“Lori, during that time, was really at the temple almost every day like it was a full-time job,” he said.
Zac and Charles had both been concerned about Lori’s growing interest in the unusual doomsday beliefs.
“At the time, we had said ‘You know, look, she’s coming home, she’s making dinner, she’s picking up JJ from school.’ You know, she can believe whatever she wants to believe, but our thing was we would just nod our head and say ‘Yeah’ to her and that’s one of the things I regret,” he said in the podcast.
Charles voiced his own fears to Gilbert Police in January of 2019 when he told officers that he had arrived home from a business trip to find that Lori had taken all their money, locked him out of the house, and accused him of being possessed by a dark spirit named Nick Schneider.
“She’s lost her mind; I don’t know how else to say it,” Charles told the officer, according to body camera footage obtained by KNXV. “We’re LDS, she thinks she’s a resurrected being and a God, a member of the 144,000.”
The marriage between the pair crumbled and Charles was killed in July of 2019 by Alex, who told police that he shot his brother-in-law in self-defense.
For nearly two years, no charges would be filled in the case, but earlier this year, the Maricopa County District Attorney’s office announced charges against Lori for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. They’ve alleged that Lori “agreed with” Alex—who died himself of natural causes in December of 2019—that one of them would carry out Charles’ murder, prosecutors allege.
Shortly after Charles’ death, Lori moved with her two children to Rexburg, Idaho to be closer to Daybell. Both children disappeared, weeks apart, in September of 2019. Their bodies were later discovered buried on Daybell’s Idaho property.
Lori and Daybell were both charged with first-degree murder earlier this year in connection with the deaths. Daybell has pleaded not guilty and Lori’s case remains on hold after a judge ruled that she was mentally unfit to stand trial.
Zac’s father, Adam Cox, said while some members of his family had held out hope that the children were alive, he feared the worst.
“Lori talked about death a lot actually, talked about the next life, talked about how great the next life is and how it’s going to be perfect and how her kids won’t have to suffer in the next life and then I thought, ‘If they’re good, Lori, you tell me where these kids are,’” he said in the podcast. “If she says, ‘I’m not going to tell you where these kids are, that means the kids aren’t alive, and I knew right then and there that the kids were dead.”
Zac said he was “devastated” when investigators discovered the bodies of his cousins—who had once been like siblings to him.
JJ was wearing his red pajamas and had been buried in a plastic bag covered in duct tape. His sister Tylee had been burned and dismembered, Rexburg Police Det. Ray Hermosillo later testified in court.
“It’s hard on me to think about what happened, especially how they found the kids,” Zac said, saying he is trying to take the grisly realization “one day at a time.”
Zac believes Daybell and Lori were “equal” partners in the alleged plot to kill off members of their family.
In addition to the murders of the children, Daybell is also facing murder charges for killing his first wife Tammy in October of 2019.
“It’s kind of a perfect storm,” Zac said. “I don’t think there was one kind of leading the other.”
He also dismissed the theory that Lori had been brainwashed by Daybell.
“I don’t think Chad Daybell is charismatic enough to really brainwash anybody,” he said. “For some reason they wanted to be together, this, you know, chosen ones in this apocalypse and they wanted insurance money and to go maybe live in Hawaii for the rest of the days until they thought Jesus would come back to Earth,” he said.
Adam admitted to Treleaven that he’s now torn about the feelings he has for his sister, who he had once been so close to while the family grew up in California.
“In one part of my heart, I love her with all of my heart. In the other part of my heart is torn in half because I am just so overwhelmed and devastated, and she’s torn our whole family apart,” he said.
Adam said he thought Lori’s fate should be “left to the Lord,” but Zac took a much harsher stance on the issue.
“It’s life in prison or death penalty,” he said. “It’s not for the Lord. I think that’s ridiculous to say right now if I’m being honest with you.”