The Trial of Lori Vallow Daybell: How did we get here?

Apr 21, 2023, 4:00 PM

Lori Vallow Daybell and her husband Chad Daybell are on trial for a series of charges related to t...

Lori Vallow Daybell sits surrounded by her attorneys during trial. She is accused in the deaths of her children JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan. (Court sketch)

(Court sketch)

BOISE, Idaho — Lori Vallow Daybell is on trial for a series of charges related to the deaths of her two children, Tylee Ryan and Joshua “JJ” Vallow. Vallow Daybell is also charged with conspiring to murder her husband Chad Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell.

As the trial progresses, testimony offers a deeper look into the events leading up to Vallow Daybell’s arrest.

Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell’s relationship 

Vallow Daybell and Daybell reportedly met in 2018, and their relationship quickly progressed. Both were members of a religious group known as “Preparing a People,” which focused on preparing for the end of the world.

Vallow Daybell’s late husband, Charles Vallow, was concerned about their involvement with one another. 

Charles was shot and killed by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, in July 2019, in what he claimed was self-defense.

Following the death of Charles, Vallow Daybell moved to Idaho with her children, where she reconnected with Chad Daybell, who lived in the area.

Daybell was still married at the time to Tammy Daybell, who later passed in October 2019. 

The autopsy of Tammy Daybell was not released until a week ago, showing she died from asphyxiation, leading authorities to believe that Vallow Daybell and Chad had conspired to kill.

Autopsy results reveal Tammy Daybell died of asphyxiation

What led to Vallow Daybell’s arrest?

Vallow Daybell’s road to a murder trial began almost three years ago following Vallow Daybell’s arrest in Hawaii. The arrest came months after Tylee and JJ’s disappearance.

The last known sighting of Tylee was on Sept. 8, 2019, when she visited Yellowstone National Park with her mother and uncle. JJ was last seen at his school in Rexburg, Idaho, on Sept. 23, 2019. The children were reported missing in September 2019.

Video: Police asking Lori Vallow Daybell about JJ’s whereabouts shown to jury on day 13 of trial

When an investigation into the missing children started, Vallow Daybell and her husband went to Hawaii, allegedly to avoid questioning. 

Eventually, Vallow Daybell and her husband were located and arrested by authorities.

They were taken into custody in February 2020, on two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children. And one misdemeanor count of resisting and obstructing an officer.

Then, both Vallow Daybell and her husband were extradited to Idaho, where she faced additional charges related to the death of her children. 

In June 2020, the remains of Tylee and JJ were discovered on Chad Daybell’s property in Fremont County, Idaho.

The prosecution has alleged that Chad and Lori were involved in a religious cult and believed that Tylee and JJ were possessed by evil spirits. They allegedly took steps to dispose of the children’s bodies after they were killed. 

Thus far, the trial has included testimony from witnesses, including family members and law enforcement officials. And throughout the trial disturbing details about the couple’s beliefs and actions have been revealed. 

Some of these testimonies include witnesses like Vallow Daybell’s sister-in-law, Zulema Pastenes. 

Sister-in-law of Vallow Daybell recalls events leading up to deaths, disappearances

Pastenes recalls traveling to Rexburg to visit Lori Vallow, Alex Cox, and the children. However, upon arrival, Tylee was nowhere to be found. 

Pastenes asked where Tylee was. She testified that Lori Vallow told her Tylee had to be free.

Other key witnesses include Melanie Gibb, a close friend of Lori who was involved in the doomsday cult. 

Close friend of Lori Vallow Daybell describes relationship with Chad Daybell, JJ’s final days

Past reporting on the trial: 

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The Trial of Lori Vallow Daybell: How did we get here?