Exploring the Depths of Lori Vallow Daybell’s Crimes

 Lori Vallow Daybell is on trial in Boise, Idaho, for her alleged role in the deaths of her 16-year-old daughter, Tylee Ryan; her 7-year-old adopted son, Joshua “JJ” Vallow; and her husband’s first wife, Tammy Daybell.

At the beginning of 2019, Charles Vallow, Lori’s Husband, went to the police with his concerns regarding his wife.  He told officers that Lori believed she was a “god” preparing for the end of days and that she had threatened to murder him.  Then in February 2019, Charles filed for divorce from Lori.  In June 2019, Charles arrived at the house where Lori was living to pick up their son JJ to take him to school.  When Charles went inside the house, he was shot by Lori’s brother Alex Cox.  Both Lori and Alex claim that the shooting occurred in self-defense.  In September, Lori Vallow relocated her and her children to Rexburg, Idaho to be closer to Chad Daybell.  Cox moved into the same apartment complex with his sister.

On September 8, 2019, Vallow, Cox, Tylee, and JJ took a trip to Yellowstone National Park.  This is the last day Tylee is seen. Vallen states that Tylee was a “zombie”.  The morning after Tylee goes missing, investigators were able to place Cox’s cell phone in Daybell’s backyard for roughly two hours.  After Cox left Daybell’s property, he sent his wife Tammy a text that read “… I spotted a big raccoon [sic] along the fence. I hurried and got my gun, and he was still walking along. I got close enough that one shot did the trick. He is now in our pet cemetery…” (Teurfs et al., 2023).  On September 22, 2019, JJ Vallow is last seen.  Friends of Vallow, Melanie  Gibb, and David Warwick, were staying with Vallow in Rexburg when JJ went missing. On the night of September 22, “Warwick says he saw Alex Cox carry JJ into Lori’s apartment. But the next morning, according to Warwick, when he asked to see JJ, Lori reportedly told them that JJ was “being a zombie” and that Cox had to take him away” (Teurfs et al., 2023).  The day after JJ disappeared, investigators were able to place Cox’s cell phone in Daybell’s backyard.

On October 19, 2019, Daybell’s wife Tammy died.  The couple’s son, Garth Daybell, stated that his mother passed away in bed and that his father called 911.  An autopsy was not conducted on Tammy, as the coroner found that she had died from natural causes. The family believed the results as Tammy was in ill health before she passed. Roughly two weeks later on November 5, 2019, Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell got married on a beach in Hawaii. 

In late November, JJ’s grandmother, Kay Woodcock, called the police to ask them to do a welfare check on him as she had not heard from her grandson in a few months.  On November 26, 2019, Rexburg police officers went to Vallow Daybell’s house looking for JJ.  The police say that “Vallow Daybell lied to them, claiming that JJ was safe and staying in Arizona with her friend, Melanie Gibb. At first, Gibb wasn’t forthcoming about JJ’s whereabouts but later called the police and told them JJ hadn’t been with her” (Teurfs et al., 2023).  After failing to comply with the investigation into her missing children, Vallow Daybell was arrested in Hawaii. Two weeks later, she was extradited to Idaho.

On June 9, 2020, Daybell’s home and property were searched by the FBI, Rexburg Police, and Fremont County Sheriff’s Office. The authorities began to dig in areas of the backyard where Cox’s cellphone had pinged in September 2019.  The authorities were able to uncover human remains buried in shallow graves. “JJ Vallow had been buried under a tree and  about 50 yards away; investigators found Tylee’s grave in the Daybell’s pet cemetery. Prosecutors believe she was buried in the same location Chad Daybell referenced when he texted Tammy Daybell nine months earlier, saying he was burying a raccoon” (Teurfs et al., 2023).  In June 2020, the authorities were able to confirm that the remains belonged to JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan.

 In the podcast True Crime Today, Tony Brueski and Scott Roder discuss how Lori Vallow Daybell convinced herself that her crimes were acceptable.

As the trial continued, the prosecution put together a great deal of financial evidence that is connected to Vallow Daybell.  Roder explains that through the investigation it was uncovered that Vallow Daybell would use her son’s or daughter’s name when dealing with financial matters such as leasing a car, transactions through their Venmo accounts, booking hotel rooms, and a trip to Hawaii.  Vallow Daybell sent an email to a house owner in Hawaii, stating that she would like to rent the property but would not have any animals or children that would be living in the house. When Daybell sent the email to the owner of the property asking to lease, her two  children were still missing.  

During the trial, a recording between Vallow Daybell and her surviving older son, Colby Ryan, was played.  In the recording, Ryan confronts Vallow Daybell about how she could kill her own two children and believe that God is on her side.  Vallow Daybell reminds Ryan that one day he will know what happened to his two siblings and stepmother. 

Brueski explains that Vallow Daybell believed that she was being told by God, or her version of it, that she had to kill her two children because they were being possessed and were no longer people.  Brueski thinks that she knew that she was killing her child.  Vallow Daybell believed that she was doing God’s work and was doing the right thing because she already viewed her daughter and son as being demons.  She believed that her children were not her children anymore and that they would all be connected in the new land of Rexburg when the second coming happened.  She thought that the children would come back when this second coming event happened.  Brueski explains that he is not sure how much Vallow Daybell understood that the murders were actual murders. 

People who have extreme ideologies often advocate for extreme measures or have extreme views.  In a religious sense, having extreme ideologies is considered to be far outside the mainstream attitudes of society.  Roder explains that people such as Vallow Daybell have extreme ideologies of what they consider to be religion.  Brueski explains that Vallow Daybell is so deep into her fantasy that she might be unable to ever see the reality of the mistakes she made. He continues by stating that it could be too painful for Vallow Daybell to face reality and to out of the mental state she is in.

By: Megan Frate
April 24, 2023

Works Cited

Brueski, T., & Roder, S. (2023, April 21). True crime today: A true crime podcast: Delving into Lori Vallow Daybell’s mind: How she convinced herself that her crimes were divine on Apple Podcasts. Apple Podcasts. Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/delving-into-lori-vallow-daybells-mind-how-she-convinced/id1504280230?i=1000610115108

Gualtieri, A. E. (2023, April 21). “Doomsday mom” Lori Vallow Daybell faces trial – here’s what to know about the case. CBS News. Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lori-vallow-daybell-doomsday-mom-trial-tylee-ryan-jj-vallow-what-to-know/

Teurfs, K., Narvaez, C., & Turner Dunn, L. (2023, April 19). Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell Case: A timeline of events. CBS News. Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lori-vallow-daybell-kids-case-timeline/ 

Trapasso, C. (2021, October 11). Idaho home where Lori Vallow-Daybell’s children were buried has a controversial new owner. Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®. Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://www.realtor.com/news/celebrity-real-estate/daybell-idaho-home-new-owner/ 

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