Lori Vallow murdered her children as she hunted ‘money, power and sex’ with her husband Chad Daybell, jurors in the doomsday cult mom’s murder trial have heard.
At the start of the cult mom’s murder trial in Boise, Idaho, the court was shown harrowing pictures of the scene where the remains of Vallow’s two children – Tylee Ryan, 16, and JJ Vallow, seven – were found in Salem, Idaho.
The ‘doomsday cult mom allegedly murdered her children after believing the second coming of Christ was imminent and her children were ‘zombies’.
The 49-year-old is also accused of conspiracy to murder her husband Chad Daybell’s ex-wife Tammy, 49. Daybell – who will also face a separate trial over the killings – was a doomsday ‘prepper’ who forged a reputation through books and talks about the end of the world.
Tylee’s ‘charred remains’ were discovered in a shallow grave. Investigators also found Tylee’s DNA on a pickaxe and shovel found at Chad Daybell’s property, where the bodies were buried in the yard.
‘Doomsday cult mom’ Lori Vallow goes on trial on Monday for the murders of her children JJ, 7, and Tylee, 16. She is pictured in August 2022
Vallow is accused of killing her kids, seven-year-old Joshua (JJ) and 16-year-old Tylee
Police discovered the remains of JJ and Tylee in a burn bit at the home of Chad Daybell in Salem, Idaho, in 2020
All that was left of Tylee was ‘a mass of bone and tissue’, the court was told. ‘That’s what was left of this beautiful young woman, the defendant’s daughter,’ Fremont country prosecutor Lindsey Blake told the jury.
JJ’s body was found in garbage bags with duct tape around him, including around his head.
Vallow sat emotionless while tragic photos were shown of the ditch where JJ was found. Jurors heard the bodies were found after Vallow referred to her children as ‘dark’ and ‘possessed’.
Blake said Vallow was motivated to by ‘money, power and sex’ to kill JJ, Tylee, and Daybell’s husband’s ex-wife, Tammy Daybell.
‘Lori Vallow Daybell used money, power and sex – or the promise of those things – to get what she wanted. What she wanted was money, power and sex,’ Blake said.
‘It didn’t matter what obstacles she had to remove to get what she wanted.’
Blake said Tylee was a ‘vibrant young woman’ with her ‘whole life ahead of her’. ‘She was just about to enter into adulthood and make her own way in the world,’ Blake said.
She said Tylee would receive social security payments following the death of her father. ‘Tylee had money. Lori wanted it and because of that, Tylee is gone.’
She said JJ was a ‘vibrant, happy-go-lucky’. But caring for JJ, who had autism, required ‘time, effort and energy’.
Caring for JJ ‘took away from the defendant doing what she wanted to do – devoting her time to Chad Daybell,’ said Blake.
After they vanished, Vallow continued to collect benefits to ‘fund her lifestyle’.
Meanwhile, there were ‘no known actions’ by Vallow to find her children. Instead she posed as a ‘likable, energetic’ mom to convince people nothing was wrong.
Daybell and Vallow believed they could rate people ‘light or dark’ and getting ‘rid’ of evil spirits from dark people, jurors heard. They were convinced the second coming of Christ was imminent and only 144,000 people could be saved.
Lori Vallow, 49, had been due to stand trial alongside her husband Chad Daybell, 54, but their cases were separated earlier this month
‘She was here on a religious mission to gather the 144,000, so she needed to spend her time and energy there,’ the prosecutor said.
‘What she did on earth no longer counted for her,’ Blake added. Vallow and Daybell used their warped religious ideas to ‘justify’ their actions.
Earlier on Monday, Vallow grinned as the jury was led into the court house. She had her curled blonde hair down below her shoulders and wore a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and a dark blazer over a white shirt.
She scrawled notes on a pad and exchanged words with her lawyers, John Thomas and Jim Archibold, who were sat either side of her, while the indictment was read.
At points, Vallow smiled while whispering to her legal team. She also looked intently at the jury as Judge Boyce greeted the jurors and warned them of their responsibilities in the case.
Vallow was being closely watched by several relatives of her alleged victims, including JJ’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock.
There was a noticeable tension in the courtroom as nearly 100 people – a mixture of lawyers, officials, security, the public, relatives and media – crammed onto the long wooden benches.
Her children’s remains were found in shallow graves in the yard of Daybell’s home in Rexburg, Idaho in June 2020. In the months leading up to the grim discovery, Vallow had flatly refused to answer the desperate questions from friends, relatives and law enforcement about Tylee and JJ’s whereabouts.
Her silence triggered nationwide concern and thrust the case into the national spotlight as investigators from several states and the FBI became involved.
Vallow was eventually arrested in Hawaii in February 2020 after she failed to meet a court order that she produce the children. Daybell was arrested after the bodies were found and both were later charged with their murders.
In court on Monday, Vallow was being closely watched by several relatives of her alleged victims, including JJ’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock
Lori with her daughter Tylee, who she accused of murdering along with her young son
Several other people close to the couple – including Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, and her ex-husband, Charles Vallow – also died in suspicious circumstances in the months and years before the children’s bodies were found.
Vallow and Daybell deny the murders of JJ, Tylee and Tammy Daybell.
Dozens of members of media from across America waiting outside the courthouse on Monday morning from 7am.
Relatives including Charles Vallow’s sister, Kay Woodcock, and her husband, Larry Woodcock, were escorted through the scrum and into the building shortly before proceedings began. The couple were previously carers for JJ – who had autism – before he was adopted by Vallow in 2014.
The Woodcocks were at the forefront of the public campaign to locate the children and demand answers from Vallow.
The judge in the case, Seventh Judicial District Judge Steven Boyce, has already caused controversy by banning cameras in the courtroom. The move has been fiercely criticized by relatives of Vallow’s alleged victims who are otherwise forced to travel hundreds of miles to witness her trial.
Legal experts also say the ban is a threat to open justice.
The court is expected to be packed every day as the media, public and relatives seek a glimpse at the proceedings.
Judge Boyce has also ruled out the death penalty for Vallow if she is convicted – which has angered relatives who say it’s the only appropriate punishment for the murder of her children.
Timeline of Lori Vallow’s and Chad Daybell’s alleged crimes
July 11, 2019: Lori Vallow’s husband, Charles Vallow, is killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona. Police initially rule that Alex acted in self defense but reopen the case months later after the children are reported missing.
August, 2019: Lori moves children JJ and Tylee to Rexburg, Idaho, close to where her future husband Chad Daybell lives with his wife Tammy.
September 8, 2019: Tylee is seen alive for the last time during a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Lori, JJ and Alex. In the following weeks Lori tells people that her daughter is studying at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus.
September 23, 2019: The last time JJ is seen at his school in Rexburg. Lori emails the school the following day claiming she is moving the family to California for a new job.
October 2, 2019: Brandon Boudreaux, the ex-husband of Lori’s niece Melani Pawlowski, is targeted in a drive-by shooting in Arizona. Police identify the vehicle carrying the shooter as a Jeep registered to Charles Vallow, Lori’s late husband.
October 19, 2019: Chad’s wife Tammy, 49, dies at their Idaho home. An obituary states that she passed away peacefully in her sleep. Chad declines an autopsy and her death is listed as due to natural causes.
October 25, 2019: A friend of Tylee receives a vague ‘miss you’ text from her phone but says that it didn’t sound like the teen.
November 5, 2019: Lori and Chad tie the knot on a beach in Kauai. Receipts indicate that Lori purchased her own wedding ring from Amazon nearly three weeks prior to Tammy’s death.
November 26, 2019: Out-of-state relatives ask Idaho police to perform a welfare check on JJ. Lori and Chad claim he is in Arizona with relatives and ask their friend, Melanie Gibb, to lie and say she took the boy there for Thanksgiving. Police soon learn that no one has seen JJ or Tylee, since September.
November 27, 2019: Police execute a search warrant related to the children at Lori’s home and discover that she and Chad have fled Idaho.
December 11, 2019: Tammy’s body is exhumed from a Utah cemetery and her death is reclassified as suspicious.
December 12, 2019: Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, is found dead in a bathroom in his Arizona home. Months later an autopsy determines that he died of natural causes while he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system.
December 21, 2019: Rexburg police issue the first press release about JJ and Tylee, revealing they believe their disappearance could be linked to Tammy’s death and asking the public for information.
December 24, 2019: Lori and Chad issue a statement through an attorney saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing ‘allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor’.
December 30, 2019: Police accuse Lori and Chad of lying to investigators and say they believe the couple know where the kids are or what happened to them.
January 3, 2020: Police search Chad’s home in Salem and remove 43 items, including tech devices and journals. They also comb over sections of the snow-covered yard with rakes and metal detectors.
January 26, 2020: Lori and Chad are seen for the first time in months as police serve them with two search warrants in Kauai. Lori is also served with a court order to produce the children to authorities in Idaho in five days. The couple are approached by the media while officers serve the documents and refuse to say anything about the children.
January 30, 2020: Lori misses the court deadline to produce the children to Idaho authorities.
February 20, 2020: Lori is arrested in Kauai and charged with two felony counts for desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, and one misdemeanor count each for resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime, and contempt of court.
March 5, 2020: Lori is extradited to Idaho, where she is held on $1million bond at Madison County Jail.
March 17, 2020: Lori professes her innocence in a statement through her attorney as two other members of her defense team quit and the judge removes himself from the case.
March 24, 2020: Court documents filed in the divorce of Lori’s niece Melani and her husband Brandon Boudreaux allege that Lori told people she believed her children were zombies before they disappeared.
April 9, 2020: Authorities reveal they are investigating Lori and Chad for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with Tammy’s death.
June 9, 2020: Police search Chad’s home in Salem for the second time and discover human remains in the backyard. Chad is taken into police custody and charged with destruction or concealment of evidence.
May 25, 2021: Lori and Chad are charged with first degree murder in the deaths of the children. Chad is also charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Tammy.
May 27, 2021: Lori is deemed incompetent to stand trial on the murder charges in Idaho.
August 5, 2021: Prosecution announces it will seek the death penalty for Chad.
April 11, 2022: Lori is restored competency. Criminal proceedings against her in Ohio are ordered to continue.
April 14, 2022: Lori is taken to the Madison County Jail in Rexburg, Idaho, by Fremont County Sheriff officers
April 10, 2023: Lori Vallow goes on trial for the murders of JJ, 7, and Tylee, 17