BOISE, Idaho — Idaho prosecutors have spent the past four weeks painstakingly detailing their case against a woman accused of killing her two minor children and a romantic rival in a bizarre doomsday plot.
On Thursday, they are expected to present their closing arguments to the jury in the Lori Vallow triple murder trial. In the meantime, Vallow’s defense team will likely try to persuade jurors that there simply isn’t enough evidence to justify a conviction.
Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, are charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, murder and grand theft in connection with the deaths of Vallow’s two youngest children: Joshua «JJ» Vallow, 7, and his older sister Tylee. Ryan, who was last seen a few days before his 17th birthday in 2019. Prosecutors also charged the couple in connection with the October 2019 death of Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell.
Both defendants have pleaded not guilty but are being tried separately. Vallow faces life in prison if she is convicted. Daybell’s trial is still months away.
More on the Lori Vallow case
At times, the testimony in the case has been harrowing, such as when Vallow’s only surviving son, Colby Ryan, accused her of murdering his brothers in a recorded phone call from jail.
Other testimony has been bizarre, such as when Vallow’s former friend Melanie Gibb testified that Vallow believed the people in her life had been taken over by evil spirits and turned into «zombies», including her two youngest children. Four of the people the defendant described as «zombies» were later killed or shot, according to testimony.
It’s also been gruesome, like when law enforcement officers testified about finding JJ and Tylee’s remains buried in Daybell’s yard. JJ’s body had been wrapped in duct tape and plastic, and Tylee’s remains had been destroyed and burned and her bones showed evidence of cuts or stab marks, witnesses said. Hair belonging to Vallow was found on a piece of duct tape used to wrap JJ, a DNA analyst testified.
Meanwhile, Vallow’s defense attorneys did not call any witnesses, and Vallow refused to testify. Instead, defense attorney Jim Archibald said they did not believe prosecutors had proven his case, suggesting there was not enough evidence to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Vallow committed a crime.
The case began in July 2019, when Vallow’s then-husband, Charles Vallow, was fatally shot by his brother, Alex Cox, at their home in a Phoenix suburb. Vallow and Charles Vallow were estranged, and he had filed divorce papers claiming she believed she was a goddess sent to usher in the Biblical apocalypse.
At the time, Cox told police that he acted in self-defense and was never charged in connection with the death. Cox died later that year from what authorities determined to be natural causes. Vallow was later charged in Arizona in connection with the death of Charles Vallow; he still hasn’t had a chance to plead guilty in that case.
According to prosecutors, Vallow was already in a relationship with Daybell, who at the time was still married to his wife, Tammy Daybell. He moved to eastern Idaho with his brother and his children to be closer to Daybell.
The boys were last seen alive in September 2019. Police found them missing a month after an extended family member became concerned that they would not be able to contact JJ. Their bodies were found the following summer.