Lori Vallow Daybell, subject of the Netflix documentary “Sins of Our Mother,” first made headlines in 2019 when two of her children had not been seen for months, and she refused to cooperate with Idaho police.
In April 2021, Vallow Daybell was charged with the murder of the two children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow, whose remains were found in 2020, buried in shallow graves on the Idaho property of Vallow Daybell’s husband, Chad Daybell, Rexburg, Idaho police said.
Vallow Daybell also faced a conspiracy to commit murder charge in the case of Charles Vallow, her fourth husband, according to Arizona court documents. Vallow Daybell and her fifth husband Chad Daybell also faced charges related to the death of his previous wife, Tammy, who died two weeks before they were married, according to a 2021 indictment.
Vallow Daybell, 49, pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of conspiracy during an arraignment at the Fremont County Courthouse in April 2022.
The shocking story of how Vallow Daybell’s family says she got hooked into the world of doomsday beliefs, to disastrous consequences, is now featured in a Netflix true-crime series, “Sins of Our Mother,” which premiered on Sept. 14, 2022.
In the series, Vallow Daybell’s oldest son, Colby Ryan, reveals exclusive insight into the family's backstory, as well as details about the present as his mother faces trial.
Here’s what to know about Vallow Daybell’s trial, which began on April 3 and ended May 12 when she was found guilty and convicted on all charges.
Who is Lori Vallow Daybell?
Lori Vallow Daybell was born Lori Norene Cox, as her brother Adam Cox recalled in the podcast “The Followers: Madness of Two,” speaking of their childhood growing up in a Mormon family in Southern California. (She is named as Lori Norene Vallow in indictments).
She has been married five times. In 2001, she married her third husband, Joseph Ryan, who is the father of her child, Tylee. After divorcing, she married Charles Vallow in 2006, changing her name to Lori Vallow. During their marriage, the couple adopted Vallow’s grand-nephew, JJ Vallow.
While she was married to Charles Vallow, Vallow Daybell found the work of Chad Daybell, an author and publisher who wrote about apocalyptic beliefs and prophecies. Vallow Daybell met him at a conference in 2018, ABC News reported. Family members later described Daybell’s beliefs as a “turning point” for Vallow Daybell in the podcast “The Followers: Madness of Two.”
“Lori talked about death a lot actually, talked about the next life, how great the next life is and how it’s going to be perfect, and how her kids won’t have to suffer in the next life,” her brother Adam said on the podcast. “If she says, ‘I’m not going to tell you where the kids are,’ that means the kids aren’t alive. And I knew right then and there that the kids are dead.”
Charles Vallow filed for divorce from Vallow Daybell in February 2019, writing in court documents filed in Arizona Superior Court he was concerned for his own safety and the safety of his children. Vallow wrote that his wife believed she was a god sent to lead people during the second coming of Christ.
Months later in July, Charles went to Vallow Daybell’s house to pick up his son JJ to take him to school, according to Chandler, Arizona, police. Police documents state that Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, told police the two got into a fight, and that he had to shoot Charles in self-defense.
“I got in a fight with my brother in law and I shot him,” Alex Cox said in a 911 call. Charles died of his injuries from the shooting, according to an autopsy conducted by the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner.
In September, Vallow Daybell moved her and her children from Arizona to Rexburg, Idaho, to be closer to Chad Daybell. Her children were last seen at various points in September. Vallow Daybell and Daybell were married in November 2019, according to a marriage license submitted as evidence in 2021.
What happened to Tylee and JJ?
Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow were last seen in September 2019, per probable cause affidavits for Chad Daybell’s arrest. Tylee, 16, was last seen on Sept. 8 in Yellowstone National Park while on vacation with her family, and JJ, 7, was last seen on Sept. 23 at his elementary school.
The next day, Vallow Daybell unenrolled him and told administrators she would homeschool him, according to court documents filed after Vallow Daybell’s arrest in 2020.
Days after the children were last seen, in October 2019, Chad Daybell’s wife Tammy died. Her obituary said she “died peacefully in her sleep.”
It was only when Vallow Daybell and Daybell married weeks later in Hawaii that authorities became suspicious. Tammy Daybell’s body was exhumed in December and in February 2021, Tammy Daybell’s autopsy was completed by the Utah Medical Examiner, according to a news release from Sheriff Len Humphries, but the contents of the report “would not be made public” as it is “evidence in an open and ongoing investigation.
The search for Tylee and JJ began on Nov. 26 when police attempted to conduct a welfare check on JJ and could not locate him, per the jail report filed after Vallow Daybell’s arrest in 2020.
On Dec. 20, the Idaho’s Rexburg Police Department declared Tylee and JJ missing and named Lori and Chad Daybell, who had fled Rexburg, as persons of interest.
Around the same time, Vallow Daybell’s brother Alex Cox was found dead in his home in December 2019. Cox died of natural causes, according to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office in Arizona.
While in Hawaii, authorities ordered Vallow Daybell to prove that her children were safe and well, and gave her five days to return Tylee and JJ to police in Rexburg. After she failed to comply, she was arrested in February 2020 and extradited to Idaho.
In April 2020, East Idaho News obtained a letter from the Idaho Attorney General’s office that, according to the outlet, said Lori and Chad Daybell were under investigation for the murder of Tylee and JJ.
On June 10, 2020, the Rexburg police department confirmed “two sets of unidentified human remains” were discovered on Daybell’s property located in Fremont County, Idaho the day before.
During a press conference the same day, Fremont County Prosecutor Rob Wood confirmed the remains belonged to children, and that Daybell had been booked into the Fremont County Jail on undisclosed charges.
Three days later, on June 13, the Rexburg Police Department confirmed the remains belonged to Tylee and JJ.
What were the Daybells charged with?
Lori and Chad Daybell were indicted on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Tylee and JJ in May 2021. The pair were also indicted on charges related to the death of Chad’s former wife, Tammy Daybell.
Both were indicted on the charge of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Tammy Daybell; only Chad Daybell was indicted on the charge of first-degree murder, according to the indictment. Both pleaded not guilty to murder charges.
Chad 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, related to the deaths of Tylee and JJ. He also pleaded not guilty to these charges.
They also face theft and insurance-related charges, according to the indictment. Daybell Vallow was indicted on one charge of grand theft related to Social Security benefits in connection to her deceased children.
Daybell was indicted on two counts of insurance fraud related to life insurance policies he had on Tammy Daybell. Both pleaded not guilty to charges of grand theft and insurance fraud
In Arizona, Daybell Vallow is also facing an additional charge of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of her ex-husband, Charles Vallow. Jennifer Liewer, a County Attorney’s Office spokesperson, told The Arizona Republic in 2021 that Vallow could only be extradited to Arizona to face this charge after her court case in Idaho was resolved.
According to 2020 court documents filed after her arrest, Lori Vallow Daybell had previously been charged with misdemeanor resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court, which she pleaded not guilty to.
Where is Lori Vallow Daybell now?
Vallow Daybell's murder trial began in Idaho on April 3, more than three years after the deaths of Tylee and JJ.
She was previously found mentally unfit for trial on separate concealment of evidence charges in 2021, leading to a stay of her murder trial, and she was committed to a mental health facility in the state.
However, a judge declared in 2022 she was mentally fit to stand trial. Idaho District Judge Steven Boyce wrote in a ruling Vallow Daybell is “restored to competency and fit to proceed.” She was arraigned on the charges days later, and pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors initially sought the death penalty against Vallow Daybell, but Boyce ruled against it last month, NBC News reported.
On May 12, Vallow Daybell was convicted on all charges. A sentencing hearing is not set. Chad Daybell's trial is for a later date.