Lori Vallow Daybell, the Idaho mom charged with killing two of her children, will not face the death penalty in her upcoming trial.
At a hearing Tuesday morning 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. Lori is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for allegedly killing her 16-year-old daughter, Tylee Ryan, and 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow.
Tylee was a daughter from a previous marriage and Lori adopted J.J. with former husband Charles Vallow.
Lori’s final husband, Chad Daybell, also faces trial for the children’s murders, and at the hearing earlier this week, 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.
Lori was once a loving mother, a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune,” and a beauty pageant contestant.
At some point, however, her religious views became more extreme, to the point where she allegedly referred to people who didn’t share her views as “zombies,” who needed to be dealt with. As her views veered off into the absurd, the people around her began dying, including her children and ex-husband Charles Vallow.
In 2012, Charles Vallow’s nephew fathered a son, J.J., who at two years old was adopted by Lori and Charles. The family moved to Kauai, Hawaii, at the end of 2014, and then to the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, in mid-2017. But only a year later Lori would meet Chad Daybell, and soon the lives of everyone around them changed.
On February 8, 2018, 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.
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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 happened. Alex Cox was never charged in the death.
Shortly after Charles Vallow’s death, Lori tried to collect on his million-dollar life insurance policy — only to learn that he switched the beneficiary to his sister, who is J.J.’s grandmother. After that, Lori reportedly never let J.J.s grandparents see him again.
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 begin 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 were searching Chad Daybell’s property in Idaho, that the bodies of Tylee and J.J. were found. Daybell tried to flee from the scene but was caught and charged with two felony counts of destruction, alteration, or concealment of evidence.
Lori and Daybell wouldn’t be charged with the murders until May 25, 2021. In addition, they were also charged with murdering Daybell’s ex-wife Tammy. Lori was sent to a mental health facility to have her competency evaluated. Eventually, she was deemed competent to stand trial.
In early March, Lori and Daybell had their trials separated by a judge, with Lori’s trial set to being 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.