After hours of harrowing statements detailing how Lori Vallow Daybell murdered her two children and conspired to kill her husband's first wife, the Idaho “doomsday mom” on Monday indicated she wanted to speak.
Dressed in an orange-and-white striped prison jumpsuit, Vallow immediately teared up as she began to speak in her own defense at a sentencing trial in Fremont County Court Monday. Still seated and flanked by her two defense attorneys, Vallow began by reading a quick scripture and expressing her grief for the 2019 deaths of her two children—7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan—and her husband's late wife, Tammy Daybell.
But, she clarified, “Jesus Christ knows that no one was murdered in this case.”
“Jesus knows me and Jesus understands me. I mourn with all of you who mourn my children and Tammy,” Vallow said. “Jesus Christ knows what happened here. No one was murdered. Accidental deaths happen. Suicides happen.”
The acknowledgment was among several shocking statements Vallow made during her nearly 10-minute rant, where she also described a near-death pregnancy she experienced and claimed she has spoken to all three of her victims since their deaths—adding that the trio is “busy and happy in the spirit world.”
But Judge Steven Boyce did not buy Vallow's statement, offering a searing admonishment of her behavior before sentencing her to five life sentences without the possibility of parole.
“You justified all this by going down a bizarre, religious rabbit hole & clearly you're still down there,” Boyce added, stating that Vallow has no remorse for her actions. The judge, when rendering his sentence, ordered that three of Vallow's life sentences will run consecutively.
The sentencing is the culmination of a surreal trial involving religious extremism, “demon” zombies, and marital strife. In May, Vallow was convicted of all charges in connection with the 2019 deaths of her two children and Daybell. The murders occurred just before Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, got married and fled to Hawaii.
In her statement, however, Vallow claimed that she has spoken with her children and Daybell, whom she called a “wonderful friend.” In one conversation she claims to have had with her 7-year-old son, Vallow said JJ insisted that she did not do “anything wrong.” She concluded her statement by stating that she looks forward to being reunited with the three.
“I know where they are now and what they're doing. I know how wonderful heaven is, and I'm homesick for it every single day,” she added.
The brother of Vallow's late husband, Charles Vallow, described the courtroom on Monday as “very tense.” But after Boyce rendered his verdict, Gerry Vallow told The Daily Beast via text message, he felt “relief and a sort of closure.
“She got what she deserved,” he said, adding that Vallow's statement “was proof that she’s loony tunes because you can’t talk to dead people.”
Prior to Vallow's statement, several family members of the victims offered a different perspective on the heinous crimes—and how she should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Samantha Gwilliam, the sister of Tammy Daybell, called Vallow a “liar, adulteress, and [a] murderer” and said, “No angels are coming to rescue you”—an apparent reference to Vallow’s apocalyptic religious beliefs.
“You will live in your prison cell for the rest of your life,” she added.
Vicki Hoban, one of Tammy’s aunts, told Vallow she hopes the rest of the 49-year-old’s life is “filled in fear and you live every day terrified” for her role in the “savage murders of great people.” In a statement read by Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood, Vallow's son also offered a heartbreaking analysis of his life since 2019.
“I’ve lost my entire family in life. I've watched everything crumble and be shredded to pieces. I have lost my sister, brother, father, and mother. I have lost cousins and family, friends and everything in between,” Colby Ryan, who was not present in court, said in the statement.
The harsh words, however, did not seem to visibly affect Vallow. Throughout the statements, she was seen looking away, talking to her lawyers, and smiling.
Vallow’s defense attorney, John Thomas, acknowledged that there is a “lot of hurt surrounding this case” and admitted that he has been praying for weeks about the outcome of his case. He added that he is aware that his client is perhaps “the most hated woman in America… and maybe even the world,” but that those negative views of Vallow will not bring closure or justice.
“We need peace to replace the hurt,” Thomas said after quoting Martin Luther King Jr. “Lori is a very misunderstood person… She is about love. She has redeeming values.”
Throughout the six-week trial, prosecutors argued that Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, were driven to kill by their beliefs in a renegade branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a need for money to start their new life. To prove their case, 60 witnesses testified before the jury about a slew of evidence that showed Vallow was the “one common thread” between the three murders.
“There is literally zero evidence that [Vallow] has remorse or responsibility,” Wood said on Monday while arguing for a life sentence.
The murders, prosecutors said, came about a year after Vallow and Daybell first met in 2018 at a Utah religious conference. At the time, Daybell was a popular Mormon author, and Vallow was a devoted fan. The pair, who were both married to other people at the time, quickly fell in love and began a secret affair, which several witnesses said was centered on religious extremism.
Melanie Gibb testified that Vallow, her former friend, believed she was one of the 144,000 people who would be on Earth for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Vallow also began to preach about a light and dark scale and that those on the latter would become “zombies,” Gibb said.
Prosecutors also showcased harrowing evidence about the three murders, including how Vallow’s son was found smothered with a white plastic bag duct-taped over his head and found in Daybell’s pet cemetery in June 2020. The most damning piece of evidence against Vallow, a DNA expert testified, was a piece of her hair that was found stuck on the duct tape used to wrap JJ’s buried body.
Dr. Garth Warren, who works for the Ada County Coroner's Office, also testified that Tylee was found in a fire pit near her brother—but that her remains were so badly dismembered and burned that he could not determine the cause of her homicide.
Prosecutors also provided details on how Tammy Daybell was murdered for the first time, revealing that she asphyxiated in her Idaho home about a month after the children were murdered. Two weeks after Tammy’s death, which was initially deemed due to natural causes, prosecutors said Daybell flew to Hawaii to marry Vallow in November 2019.
A month after that, police started to realize that JJ and Tylee were missing. Vallow and Daybell notably did not answer questions and told conflicting stories about the children’s whereabouts.
Vallow was finally arrested in Hawaii in February 2020, sparking investigations into her and her family.
But the sentencing does not mark the end of the road for Vallow. She is facing a separate trial in Arizona after allegedly conspiring with her brother to murder her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, in July 2019. Her brother, Alex Cox, died of a blood clot months after the incident, which he claimed was self-defense. Lori Vallow has also been indicted in Arizona for conspiring to kill her niece’s former husband, Brandon Boudreau.
Daybell, whose trial was severed from Vallow’s prior to her trial, is set to face a jury next June. He is charged with similar crimes in connection with the three murders and faces the death penalty.
Doomsday Mom Goes on Bonkers Rant as Judge Hands Down Life Sentence. After hours of harrowing statements detailing how Lori Vallow Daybell murdered her two children and conspired to kill her husband's first wife, the Idaho “doomsday mom” on Monday indicated she wanted to speak.How old is Lori vallow? › Who are JJ's real parents? ›
Leger gave birth to JJ, born Canaan Trahan, on May 25, 2012. She and JJ's biological father Todd Trahan both suffered from substance abuse issues and JJ was born addicted to drugs.Where was Lori Cox born? ›
|Lori Vallow Daybell|
|Daybell's 2020 mugshot|
|Born||Lori Norene Cox June 26, 1973 Loma Linda, California, U.S.|
|Other names||Lori Norene Lagioia Lori Norene Ryan Lori Norene Vallow Lori Ryan Vallow Lori Vallow Daybell Lori Ryan Daybell|