BOISE, Idaho- Idaho prosecutors have spent the last four weeks meticulously detailing their case against a woman accused of killing her two youngest children and a romantic rival in a bizarre doomsday plot.
They are expected to present their final arguments to the jury in the Lori Vallow Daybell triple murder trial on Thursday. Vallow Daybell’s defense team, meanwhile, will likely try to convince the jury that there simply isn’t enough evidence to warrant a conviction.
Vallow Daybell and her husband Chad Daybell are charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, murder and grand larceny in connection with the deaths of Vallow Daybell’s two youngest children: 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and his big sister Tylee Ryan. who was last seen a few days before her 17th birthday in 2019. Prosecutors also charged the couple in connection with the October 2019 death of Chad Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell.
Both defendants have pleaded not guilty but will be tried separately. Vallow Daybell faces a life sentence if convicted. Chad Daybell’s trial is months away.
Testimony in the case was heartbreaking at times — like when Vallow Daybell’s only surviving child, Colby Ryan, made a recorded prison call accusing her of murdering his siblings.
Other testimonies were odd, such as when Vallow Daybell’s former girlfriend, Melanie Gibb, testified that Vallow Daybell believed people in her life had been taken over by evil spirits and turned into “zombies,” including her two youngest children. Four of the people, whom the accused described as “zombies,” were later killed or shot at, according to the statement.
It was also gruesome, like when police officers said they found JJ and Tylee’s remains in Chad Daybell’s yard. JJ’s body was wrapped in duct tape and plastic, and Tylee’s remains were destroyed and burned, with her bones showing signs of hacking or stab wounds, witnesses said. Vallow Daybell’s hair was found on a piece of duct tape wrapped around JJ, a DNA analyst said.
Vallow Daybell’s defense attorneys, meanwhile, did not call witnesses and Vallow Daybell declined to testify. Instead, defense attorney Jim Archibald claimed that he did not believe the prosecutors had proven their case and indicated that there was insufficient evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Vallow Daybell committed a crime.
The case began in July 2019 when Vallow Daybell’s then-husband Charles Vallow was shot dead by her brother Alex Cox at his home in suburban Phoenix. Lori and Charles were estranged and he had filed divorce papers claiming she believed she was a goddess sent to usher in the biblical apocalypse.
At the time, Cox told police he acted in self-defense and was never charged in connection with the death. Cox died later that year of natural causes. Lori Vallow Daybell was later charged in Arizona in connection with Charles Vallow’s death; In this case, she has not yet had the opportunity to file a lawsuit.
According to prosecutors, Vallow Daybell was already in a relationship with Chad Daybell, who was still married to his wife Tammy Daybell at the time. She moved to east Idaho with her brother and children to be closer to Chad Daybell.
The children were last seen alive in September 2019. A month later, police discovered they were missing after another family member feared they could not reach JJ. Their bodies were found the following summer.