May 28, 2023
Lori Vallow

Lori Vallow Daybell stands and listens as the jury's verdict is read at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise, Idaho on Friday May 12, 2023. The Idaho jury convicted Daybell of murder in the deaths of her two youngest children and a romantic rival, a verdict that marks the end of a three-year investigation that included bizarre claims of zombie children, apocalyptic prophesies and illicit affairs.(AP Photo/Kyle Green)

A jury has established that Lori Vallow Daybell committed the murders of two of her kids and planned the murder of a lover. Soon after 3 p.m. ET, the verdict was read out in court, and the jury members were then excused.

It may take several months before a sentence hearing can be convened, according to Judge Steven Boyce. 49-year-old Vallow Daybell might receive a life sentence. Although they were both charged with several offences two years ago, she and her 54-year-old husband Chad Daybell are being prosecuted separately.

In contrast to the trial’s main phase, where Boyce ruled daily sessions would be portrayed only via voice in order to avoid the broadcast of sensitive and upsetting photographs, the reading of the verdict was live-streamed from the Ada County Courthouse in Boise, Idaho.

Weeks were spent by the prosecution presenting their evidence against Vallow Daybell to the jury, which included grisly photos taken at the spot where her children’s bodies were discovered.

Over the course of the trial, which lasted more than a month, Vallow Daybell’s defence team stunned everyone by choosing not to call a single witness and resting its case shortly after the prosecution ended its case.

On a case that has received a lot of attention, the jury started deliberations Thursday afternoon. Vallow Daybell is accused of killing her two youngest children and her husband’s prior wife, according to the prosecution, in part because of her religious views on zombies and the impending end of the world.

The murder trial and Vallow Daybell’s history are briefly summarised below:

What is Vallow Daybell accused of?

In May 2021, nine criminal counts against Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell were brought against them, including three counts of murder and/or conspiracy.

Tylee Ryan and Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow, the two youngest children of Vallow Daybell, are allegedly dead. When Tylee and JJ, who was 7 years old, vanished in September 2019, Tylee was almost 17. The children’s bodies were discovered in June 2020, buried on Chad Daybell’s ranch in Rexburg, Idaho.

Vallow Daybell was charged with criminal obstruction and abandonment of a child even before the remains were discovered. She is accused by the prosecution of failing to declare her children missing so she could continue to get benefits.

She is also accused of planning the murder of Chad’s ex-wife Tammy Daybell, who was discovered dead in her house in October 2019—less than one month before he married Vallow in Hawaii. He is the fifth husband of Vallow Daybell.

In another case in Arizona, Vallow Daybell was also charged with conspiring to murder Charles Vallow, her fourth husband, by having her brother, Alex Cox, allegedly shoot and kill him in July 2019. In December 2019, Alex Cox passed away from what were found to be natural causes.

What happened during the trial?

Numerous witnesses were questioned by the state, and it frequently shown terrible pictures of Tylee and JJ’s bodies to the jury. JJ’s body was wrapped in plastic and had his hands and ankles bound, while Tylee’s body had been burned and dismembered. Over his head, a plastic bag was duct taped.

Numerous text messages from Vallow Daybell’s phone are among the numerous circumstantial pieces of evidence that have been presented during the trial. However, a DNA analyst also stated that a hair recovered on JJ’s body that was attached to a piece of duct tape was determined to match his mother.

The defence attempted to convince the court that there wasn’t enough evidence for the jury to consider the prosecution’s case without calling its own witnesses, but it was unsuccessful.

On Tuesday, defence lawyer James Archibald announced, “Your honour, we don’t believe the state has proved its case, so the defence will rest.” Boyce, though, decided that there was enough proof to move on.

According to the prosecution, Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell’s whole relationship is intertwined in a murderous criminal conspiracy that they attempted to defend through implausible assumptions.

Prosecutors claim that after the pair first met in October 2018, they planned to murder their closest family members in order to profit from the deaths through insurance claims and Social Security benefits.

Archibald said in his closing remarks that his client was enslaved by a man whom she views as a saviour and her enduring soulmate. He said that the prosecution failed to link Vallow Daybell directly to the deaths of her children. According to Archibald, DNA evidence like hair on a piece of tape might have come from a mother acting normally.

What role do her beliefs play in this situation?

Journalist Leah Sottile of Oregon has claimed that Lori Vallow transitioned from being a “suburban mom in yoga pants” to someone who was enmeshed in an extreme subculture.

“I have found in my own reporting that Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell really existed at the fringes, the far right fringes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Sottile said to member station Boise State Public Radio. “And that they… kind of were able to meet because of this ecosystem of extremism that exists there.”

Jurors were informed by Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake that Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell presented themselves as religious figures by the names of “James and Elaina.”

According to Blake, they claimed to be able to “rate” people in order to determine whether or not they might be possessed by a demonic spirit.

Blake reportedly told the jury, “The defendant used ‘casting,’ which involved prayer and energy work,” according to East Idaho News. “This casting frequently failed, and zombies became the accepted myth. The necessity of destroying the body was a recurring topic.

Vallow Prosecutors said that Daybell and Daybell were both interested in “end times” and apocalypse scenarios and that they held similar views on dark energy’s manifestation via individuals.

Prosecutors have referenced texts sent between the two “regarding death percentages for Tammy” Daybell, as well as texts mentioning her being in limbo and Tammy “being possessed by a spirit named Viola,” during the trial and in their indictment.

The zombie tale first appeared in 2020

In an affidavit dated 2020, Rexburg police investigator Ron Ball stated that Vallow Daybell’s close friend Melanie Gibb had recalled hearing Daybell suggest that Tylee had turned into a zombie. Vallow Daybell had learned this idea from Daybell.

The affidavit states that Tylee responded, “Not me, mom,” after Vallow Daybell called her a zombie after Tylee declined to watch JJ. Gibb said Vallow Daybell eventually came to the conclusion that JJ had also turned into a zombie.

Vallow and Daybell Gibb told the investigator that Daybell said they belonged to the “Church of the Firstborn” and had a unique mission that was prescribed by the Book of Revelation.

Additionally, they said that their goal was to purge the planet of “zombies,” Ball reported.

According to them, zombies are possessed by evil spirits, and the host body can only be freed by actually dying, Ball continued.

Gibb was with Lori Vallow when Chad Daybell first spoke to her on the phone about his zombie thoughts in the beginning of 2019, according to Ball’s account. Charles Vallow passed away a few months later.

One of the main issues in the case is money

According to The Associated Press, Blake stated in court that the defendant “used money, power, and sex to get what she wanted.” It made no difference what it was.

According to the prosecution, Vallow Daybell and Daybell reaped financial benefits from the three fatalities by using the insurance payout and federal benefits to their own benefit. Their intention, according to Blake, was to start a new life far from their family.

The U.S. government was the victim of Vallow Daybell’s alleged grand theft after she collected Social Security monies meant for the care of Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow but failed to notify Tylee’s passing.

Additionally, according to the prosecution, Chad Daybell signed documents just before his wife unexpectedly passed away at age 49, increasing her life insurance coverage to the highest permitted by the policy. She had asphyxiated, an autopsy later revealed.

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