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Lori Vallow, Idaho mother charged with killing her children, pleads not guilty

Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, were indicted last year on first-degree murder charges and other counts in the deaths of her two children, Tylee and Joshua.
Lori Vallow Daybell during her hearing on March 6, 2020, in Rexburg, Idaho.
Lori Vallow Daybell during her hearing on March 6, 2020, in Rexburg, Idaho.John Roark / The Idaho Post-Register via AP, Pool file
/ Source: NBC News

Lori Vallow, the Idaho woman charged with murder in the deaths of her two children, pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Vallow entered the plea during an arraignment at the Fremont County Courthouse, about 40 miles north of Idaho Falls.

She was “restored to competency and fit to proceed” to stand trial earlier this month, nearly a year after she was declared mentally unfit to stand trial on separate charges of concealment of evidence. The murder case at the time was stayed.

Idaho does not allow for an “insanity defense,” but it mandates that defendants must be able to understand the charges they face.

Vallow was transferred last week from the custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to an eastern Idaho jail.

Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, were indicted last year on first-degree murder charges and other counts in the deaths of her two children, Tylee and Joshua, who were 16 and 7 when they were last seen in September 2019.

The children’s bodies were found on Daybell’s property in June 2020.

Multiple people close to Vallow have raised red flags about her mental state and bizarre doomsday beliefs.

Indictments said the couple “did endorse and espouse religious beliefs for the purpose of encouraging and/or justifying the homicides” of Tylee, Joshua and Daybell’s wife, Tammy Daybell, whom he is accused of murdering.

Tylee was last seen on Sept. 8, 2019. Police were able to find a photo from that day of Tylee on a trip with Vallow, Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, and Joshua to Yellowstone National Park, according to authorities.

Joshua, who had special needs, was last seen alive on Sept. 23, 2019 at Kennedy Elementary School in Rexburg. When police went to Vallow’s home to conduct a welfare check at the prompting of his grandmother in November, Joshua was nowhere to be found.

But Vallow and Daybell had never reported the children missing and did not cooperate with investigators before they fled the state, Rexburg police said.

They were found in Hawaii in January 2020, at which point authorities gave Vallow until the end of the month to “physically produce her children.” She did not, and was charged with two counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children.

In June 2020, Daybell was taken into custody after the remains of Vallow’s children were found on his property.

Daybell had previously been charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence and two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. He pleaded not guilty to these charges.

Vallow had previously been charged with misdemeanor resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court. She pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Daybell and Vallow married weeks after Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell, was found dead in her home in 2019. She was 49.

Tammy Daybell’s death was initially ruled as natural but has since been classified as suspicious, and her remains were exhumed so an autopsy could be conducted. An autopsy ruled her death was a homicide.

Vallow’s fourth husband, Charles Vallow, also died in 2019. He was shot to death by Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, during a confrontation in Chandler, Arizona. Cox claimed self-defense. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner in Arizona ruled the death a homicide.

Vallow and Cox were questioned by police but not charged.

Cox died in December 2019 of an apparent blood clot in his lung, The Associated Press reported. He was named by prosecutors Tuesday as a co-conspirator in the murders of Joshua, Tylee and Tammy Daybell.

Before Charles Vallow died, he filed for divorce, claiming in documents that his wife believed she was reincarnated and was a god sent to lead people during the second coming of Christ in July 2020, and she told her husband that if he got in her way, she would kill him.

Vallow’s third husband and Tylee’s father, Joseph Ryan, also expressed “real and serious concerns” in court documents in the midst of their divorce and custody battle. The documents said Vallow was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation after she told social workers that “death would be an option before giving Tylee to her father, Mr. Joseph Ryan, even for a visit.”

Ryan died of an apparent heart attack in 2018. An online obituary said Ryan was 59.

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.