Tears for her sister but not her children, at the murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell

Apr 25, 2023, 2:53 PM | Updated: 5:09 pm

Lori Vallow Daybell looked at her sister, Summer Shiflet, when Summer entered the Ada County courtr...

A courtroom sketch depicts Summer Shiflet when she took the stand at the murder trial of her sister, Lori Vallow Daybell. The second day of the fourth week of the trial included testimony that revealed two very different sides of the defendant. (Court sketch)

(Court sketch)

BOISE, Idaho — Lori Vallow Daybell looked at her sister, Summer Shiflet, when Summer entered the Ada County courtroom in Boise on Tuesday morning.

Shiflet was there to testify on behalf of the state, which is trying Lori Vallow Daybell for the murder of her children, seven-year-old JJ Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan. The remains of both children were found in Chad Daybell‘s backyard on Jun 9, 2020.

Reporters in the courtroom said that Vallow Daybell looked at her sister and smiled as Shiflet took the stand. Shiflet was in tears for much of her testimony.

Looking sad, and nervous, she told the court that in the past she’d had a close relationship with Lori. And, that she trusted her.

“I felt lied to,” she said, when the bodies of Tylee and JJ were found.

At this point during the trial, Larry Woodcock, JJ Vallow’s grandfather, was reportedly rocking back and forth in his seat. He would not return to the courtroom after a lunchtime break.

The jury was then given a transcript of the recorded telephone call they were about to hear. 

The call was between Vallow Daybell and Shiflet. It was recorded on June 20, 2020. At the time, Lori Vallow Daybell was being held at the Madison County Jail.  The call began with a list of devastating questions.  

“This is not my Lolo that I know and love”

“I’m willing to listen if you’re willing to talk to me,” Shiflet told her sister in a voice described as heavy with tears.

“Did you know they were there? I don’t know how they can be thrown away like garbage!

“You were in Hawaii dancing on the beach while your kids are in the ground,” Shiflet screamed at her sister during the call.

“This is your opinion,” Lori said in return.

Shiflet continued by telling Lori that she would have taken Lori’s kids, and asking why Lori cut herself off from Shiflet and their mother for four months.

While the recording was played for the courtroom, Shiflet looked at Lori for a long period of time, according to KSL NewsRadio court reporter Hugo Rikard Bell.

The emotions displayed on Shiflet’s face changed from sadness to anger to pity.

During defense questioning, Vallow Daybell described as protective

Upon cross-examination, Shiflet said she felt that Lori was a good and protective mother and that Tylee “adored” Lori.

Shiflet also told the court that she never feared for Tylee’s safety around Lori and that she couldn’t imagine Lori killing or conspiring to kill her children.

However, a re-examination by prosecutors had Shiflet tearfully admitting that Lori Vallow Daybell had lied to her about her children being safe.

Forensic photographs tell the unimaginable story of Tylee’s death

Whether Lori Vallow Daybell’s children had been safe or not was answered definitively in early June 2020, when special agents from the FBI began methodically digging in Chad Daybell’s backyard in Rexburg, Idaho.

Special Agent Steve Daniels is a senior leader for the FBI’s Evidence Response Team. He led the team as they found and then recovered the remains of Tylee and JJ.

The courtroom was quiet as Daniels set up a display featuring some of the 700 photos of the crime scene taken by the FBI, including a photo of Chad Daybell’s backyard. During this procedure the jury was described as attentive, the accused, indifferent.

Lori Vallow Daybell Trial

Special Agent, ERT, Steve Daniels, FBI

Using the photographs, Daniels painted the picture — they first used hand tools and then a backhoe on the first area they believed was a gravesite. They found a vertebrate, Daniels said, their first sign that a human was below. 

The next unmistakable sign, Daniels said, was the odor of deteriorating human flesh.  That was combined with an overwhelming smell of accelerant.

More digging led them to a mass that they thought was hard earth. It was actually Tylee’s body, dismembered, and then burned.

JJ Vallow would be recovered soon after. But the court was adjourned for the day before Daniels could provide those details.




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Tears for her sister but not her children, at the murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell