ID v. Lori Vallow Daybell: Daily Trial Updates

Posted at 3:00 PM, May 12, 2023 and last updated 12:36 PM, May 15, 2023

BOISE, Idaho (Court TV) — Lori Vallow Daybell has been found guilty of all charges in the deaths of her two children and conspiring in the death of her fifth husband’s first wife, Tammy Daybell.

The jury reached their verdict after nearly seven hours of deliberations over two days.

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The so-called ‘Doomsday Cult Mom’ was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception, one count of grand theft and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Tammy Daybell.

Following the verdict, Judge Steven Boyce said sentencing will be scheduled in about three months following a pre-sentence investigation.

An indictment accused Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell of espousing religious beliefs to justify the Sept. 2019 murders of 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old “JJ” Vallow and the Oct. 2019 murder of Tammy Daybell. Vallow Daybell was also accused of grand theft by deception for allegedly pocketing her children’s Social Security benefits after their deaths.

Chad Daybell's property

In this aerial photo, investigators search for human remains at Chad Daybell’s residence in the 200 block of 1900 east, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in Salem, Idaho.  (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP)

JJ and Tylee’s remains were found on Daybell’s property in June 2020, several months after JJ’s grandmother contacted police looking for him. By then, Vallow Daybell was sitting in an Idaho jail on charges stemming from the children’s disappearance. She was arrested in Hawaii in Feb. 2020, where she and Daybell had relocated amid a cloud of suspicion.

RELATED: Lori Vallow Daybell case: Timeline of events ahead of trial

Vallow Daybell’s alibi notice said she was in her Rexburg apartment when the children died in the home of her now-deceased brother, Alex Cox, who the indictment described as a co-conspirator. The notice also claimed Vallow was in Hawaii when Tammy Daybell died in her home in October 2019 from what were determined to be natural causes.

Investigators testified the case goes back to 2018, when the couple connected over their religious beliefs, which set in motion the plot to kill Vallow Daybell’s children and Tammy Daybell. Chad Daybell was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but friends and relatives said his faith had taken a turn toward fringe apocalyptic beliefs. Melanie Gibbs, once a close friend of Vallow Daybell’s who testified against her, said the defendant came to believe her children were zombies inhabited by dark spirits based on Daybell’s teachings.

The case against the couple, however, was grounded in traditional forensics, including cell phone records that investigators testified connected the couple and Alex Cox to locations where the victims were last seen alive.

The case took a number of legal twists and turns, one of the most significant occurred in the weeks before the trial when Judge Steven Boyce severed the couple’s cases so they would be tried separately and took the death penalty off the table for Vallow.



DAY 23 – 5/12/23

DAY 22 – 5/11/23

DAY 21 – 5/10/23

DAY 20 – 5/9/23

DAY 19 – 5/8/23

DAY 18 – 5/5/23

DAY 17 – 5/4/23

DAY 16 – 5/3/23

DAY 15 – 5/2/23

DAY 14 – 5/1/23

DAY 13 – 4/28/23

DAY 12 – 4/27/23

DAY 11 – 4/26/23

DAY 10 – 4/25/23

DAY 9 – 4/24/23

DAY 8 – 4/20/23

DAY 7 – 4/19/23

DAY 6 – 4/18/23

DAY 5 – 4/14/23

  • LISTEN: ID v. Vallow Daybell: Day 5
  • Friday started with more testimony from Chandler Police Det. Nathan Duncan. He shared emails and texts exchanged among key figures in this case — Lori and Charles Vallow, Lori and Chad Daybell, Lori and Alex Cox, Lori and Zulema Pastenes, Lori and Melanie Gibb — on a slew of topics. Among them were Chad and Lori’s affair, efforts to cast demons from Charles, Charles’ life insurance, and an email from Charles to Tammy about the affair.
  • The rest of the day was taken up by the direct examination and some cross of Zulema Pastenes, who expanded on Melanie Gibb’s account of Lori and Chad’s ministry, a fringe offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Pastenes said she bought into Lori’s “charming” and “convincing” way of expressing things. Pastenes believed Lori was a person in “high spiritual standing” based on Lori’s claim that she was in direct contact with the angel Moroni and Jesus Christ. Pastenes felt similarly about Chad, who claimed he was the apostle James the Less in a previous life in which he was married to Lori.
  • Pastenes painted a picture of a cult-like atmosphere in which Pastenes and other acolytes assisted Lori in “castings” to expel demons from her then-husband, Charles Vallow, who Chad and Lori allegedly believed was inhabited a demon they called Ned, then another called Hiplos.
  • Pastenes also participated in the attempted casting of a spirit Lori called Viola from Chad’s wife, Tammy Daybell, on the same day as the alleged attempted shooting of Tammy in October 2019. Pastenes said that after the casting, Lori got a phone call that made her very upset, and Lori said something to the effect of, “idiot, can’t do anything right by himself.”
  • The jury saw drawings from Pastenes’ journal documenting the couple’s teachings, including the light/dark scale they used to rate people, and the steps involved in a casting.
  • The jury saw photos of Pastenes with Lori, Chad, Melanie Gibb and other members of their inner circle at religious conferences in 2018 in St. George, Utah; Rexburg, Idaho; and Mesa, Arizona.
  • Followers received blessings from Daybell about their past lives (or probations) and the roles they would play in the Second Coming of Jesus after the world’s end.
  • It appeared that the couple took a strong interest in Pastenes, who Daybell said was Lori’s daughter in a previous life who was raped, killed and dismembered at age 14.
  • Prosecutor Rachel Smith also questioned Pastenes extensively about Alex Cox — who Pastenes met through Vallow in 2018 and married in 2019 — and Cox’s role as his sister’s protector or “warrior-defender.”
  • Pastenes said Cox was unwavering in his devotion to the couple until they left for Hawaii after Tammy Daybell’s death and ceased contact with him.
  • When Cox learned in December 2019 of Tammy Daybell’s planned exhumation, Pastenes said Cox remarked, “I think I’m being their fall guy.” Pastenes said that when she pressed him on what he meant, he said, “either I am a man of God or I’m not.” He died the next day.
  • On cross, defense lawyer John Thomas expanded on the nature of the castings, drawing out the point that they were verbal in nature and did not involve physical acts or violence.
  • On cross, Pastenes agreed that Lori and Chad’s teachings were similar to those espoused at “Preparing a People” religious conferences.
  • On cross, Pastenes said she no longer believed in Chad and Lori or their teachings. Her experience with them had taught her to be more cautious of people’s motives and less apt to assume the best in them, she said.
  • READ MORE: Alex Cox’s widow testifies against Lori Vallow Daybell

DAY 4 – 4/13/23

  • LISTEN: ID v. Vallow Daybell: Day 4
  • Melanie Gibb tracked Chad and Lori Daybell’s extramarital relationship from a 2018 religious conference to a November 2019 phone call in which Gibb accused the couple of being led astray by the devil and pleaded for information about Lori’s missing son.
  • The jury heard the phone call, which Gibb said she recorded partly to absolve herself for lying to police by telling them – at Lori’s request – that JJ was with her at one point when he was missing. Lori assured Gibb that JJ was safe but that she couldn’t disclose his location because “dark forces” instigated by Kay Woodcock were pursuing them.
  • Gibb shared chilling insights into Chad and Lori’s belief system, one in which people signed contracts in the “pre-mortal world” with the devil that turned them into “dark spirits” or “zombies.”  Chad told Lori that her husband, Charles, and his wife, Tammy, were dark, and Lori led “castings” to try to expel the spirits from their bodies. Lori also believed that her children, JJ and Tylee, and her sister-in-law, Kay Woodcock, were dark, and that eventually they would have to “pass on” to be saved.
  • Blake agreed with prosecutor Lindsey Blake that their theology seemed to evolve to satisfy the “master plan” that was bestowed on them from on high: that their spouses would “pass on” so they could be together and lead the 144,000 to salvation.
  • The two were “intimate” even though they were married to other people because they believed it was God’s will for them to be together since they had been together in previous lives … and because Chad couldn’t get a divorce because it would strip of his exalted status.
  • On cross, Gibb said Lori could be convincing when she pushed her teachings on her, but Gibb wasn’t convinced of it all.
  • Chandler (Arizona) Police Det. Nathan Duncan began walking the jury through the investigation of Charles Vallow’s shooting death by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox.
  • Duncan said injuries to Charles’ body contradicted Alex Cox’s claim that Cox shot Charles twice In the chest in self-defense.
  • NEW COURT AUDIO: As part of the investigation, Duncan found a 15-minute audio recording in Lori’s iCloud account of a tearful-sounding Chad exalting Alex Cox to warrior status after Cox’s death in a bastardized version of a “patriarchal blessing,” a Mormon prayer that contains revelations from God.
  • NEW COURT AUDIO: The jury also heard a phone call Chad placed on the day of Charles Vallow’s death to a Chandler mortuary asking for a quote for the cremation and shipping of remains to Louisiana, where Charles’ sister, Kay Woodcock, lived. Chad said he was asking for his uncle, who had died in a hospital, and spelled his last name as DAYBAL.
  • READ MORE: Former friend Melanie Gibb takes the stand in Lori Vallow Daybell trial

DAY 3 – 4/12/23

DAY 2 – 4/11/23

DAY 1 – 4/10/23

Court TV senior field producer Emanuella Grinberg and digital content manager Ivy Brown contributed to this report.