A verdict has been reached in the case of Lori Vallow, an Idaho mother, accused of killing two of her children and conspiring to kill her husband’s first wife.
The jury in Boise reached its decision Friday, ending the weeks trial of Vallow, who was charged with murder, conspiracy and grand theft in the deaths of Joshua «JJ» Vallow and Tylee Ryan.
The verdict will be read in court starting at 12:45 local time.
Joshua, 7, and Tylee, 16, went missing in September 2019. Their disappearance sparked a months-long search that ended in June 2020 when police found their remains on property belonging to Vallow’s fifth and current husband, Chad Daybell.
Daybell was arrested and charged with murder and conspiracy in connection with the children’s deaths. He will have a separate trial that has not yet been scheduled.
Witnesses have stated that the couple were deeply involved in a doomsday belief system, claiming they were seeing «zombies» and demonic possession all around them.
Both are also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. He faces additional charges of murder and insurance fraud.
Both have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Prosecutors and defense paint very different pictures of Vallow
The indictment described Vallow as a woman who would «remove any obstacle in her path» and use «money, power and sex to get what she wanted».
«It didn’t matter what it was,» Fremont County District Attorney Lindsey Blake told jurors at the hearing. beginning of trial.
She said that Tylee, Joshua, and Tammy Daybell were killed because they got in the way of Vallow and Daybell’s relationship.
«Remember, the defendant will remove any obstacle in her path to get what she wants, and she wanted Chad Daybell,» Blake said.
Vallow’s defense team, however, argued that she is a «kind and loving mother to her children» who took an interest in religion and Biblical prophecies about the end of the world.
“Some people care less about Bible prophecies, others care a lot. Fortunately in this country, we can worship as we choose,» defense attorney Jim Archibald said.
He told jurors that the charges, which accuse Vallow of directing, abetting, aiding or participating in the murders, show that prosecutors don’t really know what happened.
«Did she kill or help or encourage or direct? They’re not sure,» he said.
Witnesses describe zombie claims and find remains
Idaho police began investigating Vallow and Daybell, a doomsday perpetrator, in November 2019 after family members reported the two children missing. The couple refused to cooperate with the investigation and left the state; they were later found in Hawaii and extradited to Idaho.
Authorities would find the children’s remains on Daybell’s property in Fremont County, Idaho. Court documents said Joshua, who was adopted and had special needs, was buried in a pet cemetery, and Tylee’s remains were dismembered and burned in a bonfire.
Throughout the trial, several witnesses took the prosecution stand. The defense did not call any witnesses, and Vallow chose not to testify.
Rexburg Police Detective Ray Hermosillo told jurors that Joshua’s arms were visibly bruised after his partially decomposed body was found. buried near a tree. The boy, who was wearing pajamas and red socks, had duct tape covering his mouth and binding his arms and legs. Black plastic covered the remains of him. Hair belonging to Vallow was found on a piece of duct tape used to wrap the boy, a DNA analyst testified.
Tylee’s remains had been destroyed and burned, packed in a melted green bucket, and buried elsewhere on the property, according to the detective.
Another witness who took the stand was Vallow’s former friend, Melanie Gibb. Vallow tried to use Gibb as an alibi for her and told the police that she was investigating the disappearance of children that Joshua was visiting her in Arizona.
Gibb told the court that Vallow believed that some people were «zombies» or possessed by evil spirits, including her two youngest children and her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. Joshua was the great-nephew of Charles Vallow, who along with Lori Vallow adopted the boy.
Charles Vallow was shot to death in his Arizona home by Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, in July 2019. Cox, who died in 2019 of what were reported to be natural causes, claimed it was self-defense. But in 2021, Vallow was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Charles Vallow. He still hasn’t had a chance to plead guilty in that case.
Gibb said that after Charles Vallow’s death, Vallow had a hard time caring for Joshua and felt that he did not have enough time with Daybell. The family moved from Arizona to Idaho, Gibb testified, and that’s when Vallow began to claim that Joshua was possessed.
More on the Lori Vallow case
Colby Ryan, Vallow’s adult son, also testified and suggested that someone pretending to be Tylee was texting her from his phone after she went missing. She told jurors that she sent him text messages regularly and that the tone and punctuation of the messages changed after her sister disappeared, but before she was reported missing.
Jurors also listened to a recorded phone conversation of Ryan confronting his mother. He accused her of murdering her brothers, Joshua and Tylee, and then lying to him.
«Knowing they’re gone, and you knew it! And my little sister is texting me on my phone, that she’s not even alive!» Ryan said. «My poor brother, who is the sweetest child in the world, for what purpose? Tell me that this is the will of God: that all my family, including my stepfather, die.»
In the call, Vallow denied killing the children and told Ryan that everything would be cleared up in the afterlife.
Testimony on Tammy Daybell’s bruises and time of death
The trial also focused on the death of Tammy Daybell in 2019. Prosecutors said Vallow was already in a relationship with Daybell when he was still married to Tammy Daybell and moved to eastern Idaho to be closer to him.
Daybell and Vallow were married weeks after Tammy Daybell’s death.
Utah Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Erik Christensen testified that bruises were discovered on Tammy Daybell’s body and that she may have been restrained when she died, according to KSL, an NBC affiliate from Salt Lake City. He also said he believes she died hours before Daybell reported her death, the news station reported.
Initially it was considered that his death was of natural causes, but the authorities exhumed his body and an autopsy determined that it was a homicide and that he died of suffocation.