Finding jurors who haven’t heard about Lori Vallow Daybell, the mom accused of killing her two kids, is becoming a struggle for the Idaho court where her trial will take place.
Jury selection began on Monday but is winding down, the Independent reported. The court is seeking a pool of 42 jurors, from which they can narrow down to 12 jurors and six alternates, KTVB reported, but so far, the prosecution and defense are struggling to find the last few unbiased jurors.
Meanwhile, a former friend of Vallow’s, identified only as Jess, has told media outlets that Vallow was once a loving mother until she met Chad Daybell and began subscribing to his “doomsday cult” – which taught followers a rating system identifying good or evil people. Evil people were called zombies.
“They don’t see the zombies as people. They see them the way someone would see a cockroach being controlled by a parasite,” Jess said, according to NewsNation.
Jess added that “killing the kids, to them, is mercy. As disturbing as that is and hard as that is to wrap your mind around it, that is why someone who spent all these years being kind and loving could then do that.”
Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, are charged with murdering Vallow’s daughter Tylee from a previous marriage and her adopted son J.J., as well as murdering Daybell’s ex-wife, Tammy. The pair was charged on May 25, 2021, but the trial is just getting started, 12 News reported.
The trial will take place in Boise after being moved from eastern Idaho, where the murders allegedly took place, in order for Vallow to get a fair trial.
Late last month, during a hearing at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho, District Judge Steven Boyce heard a motion to dismiss the death penalty, which Boyce granted “to ensure the rights of the defendant to a fair trial are protected,” East Idaho News reported.
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Lori’s husband, Chad Daybell, also faces trial for the children’s murders, and at a hearing last month, Boyce ruled that prosecutors must turn over all written and recorded statements made by Chad since he’s been in custody. Chad still faces the death penalty.
On February 8, 2018, Vallow’s ex-husband, Charles Vallow, filed for divorce from Lori, saying she threatened to kill him if he stood in the way of her preparations for Jesus Christ’s second coming, which she and Daybell said would happen in July 2020. Vallow called the cops on Lori, citing the murder threat and asking her to be placed in a mental institution to receive treatment. Police spoke to Lori and seemed to believe it was Vallow, not Lori, who was the one with mental health issues.
Then, on July 11, 2019, police in Chandler, Arizona, received a phone call from Alex Cox, Lori’s brother, who said he shot and killed Charles Vallow in self-defense. Lori began telling friends and family different versions of how Vallow died, from saying he had a heart attack, to suicide, to self-defense. She texted Vallow’s children from a previous marriage about his death but stopped answering them when they asked her what had happened. Alex Cox was never charged in the death.
In September 2019, Lori, along with Tylee and J.J., moved to Rexburg, Idaho, to be closer to Daybell, who said a voice told him to move there for the second coming of Christ. On September 8, 2019, Lori and her brother Alex, took Tylee and J.J. to Yellowstone National Park. Tylee was never seen alive again.
Two weeks later, on September 23, J.J., who is autistic, was last seen at his school in Idaho. The next day, Lori informed the school that he would be homeschooled instead.
Shortly after this, Chad’s wife Tammy was found dead in her home. Her death was initially ruled to be natural, but police have since opened an investigation into the matter.
Less than a month after Tammy died, Lori married Chad Daybell in Hawaii.
Three weeks later, after Lori and Daybell returned to Idaho, police conducted a welfare check on J.J. at the request of his grandmother. At the time, Lori told police that J.J. was with relatives in Arizona and that Tylee had gone to Brigham Young University-Idaho. People then began to question where J.J. and Tylee had gone, and suddenly, Lori and Daybell packed up and abandoned their home in Idaho on the same day police began searching for the children.
Not long after, on December 12, Lori’s brother Alex died in Gilbert, Arizona, due to a reported blood clot. His death was not investigated further, as the condition ran in the family.
On December 20, police in Rexburg, Idaho, officially announced an investigation into the disappearance of J.J. and Tylee. A month later, Lori was served a court order to produce the children within five days. She and Daybell headed back to Kauai.
When the deadline to produce the children passed, police began laying the groundwork to arrest Lori. They did so on February 20, 2020, arresting Lori in Kauai and charging her with two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children.
It wasn’t until June 9, 2020, when police searched Chad Daybell’s property in Idaho, that the bodies of Tylee and J.J. were found. Daybell tried to flee the scene but was caught and charged with two felony counts of destruction, alteration, or concealment of evidence.
In early March, Lori and Daybell had their trials separated by a judge, with Lori’s trial set to begin on April 3, with Daybell’s to occur later. The separation came after Lori tried to have the charges against her dismissed for lack of a speedy trial since she was arrested nearly three years ago.