Lori Vallow Daybell’s former friend: ‘She threatened to kill me’

Posted at 12:57 PM, May 3, 2023 and last updated 5:30 PM, May 3, 2023


BOISE, Idaho (Court TV) – A woman who said she used to be friends with Lori Vallow Daybell took the stand on Wednesday and testified she ended the friendship after comments that frightened her.

Lori is charged with murdering her two youngest children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and conspiring to kill her fifth husband’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. The bodies of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan were found buried on Lori’s fifth husband, Chad Daybell’s, property.

Sketch of Audrey Barattiero testifying against Lori Vallow Daybell.

Audrey Barattiero testified in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybelll on May 3, 2023. (Sketch by Lisa Cheney)

Testimony began on Wednesday with Audrey Barattiero, who lives in Missouri and was friends with Lori. Audrey testified that when she attended a conference in November 2018, Lori’s house was offered as a place where people could stay. She was among others who stayed at the home that weekend, including Zulema Pastenes, Melanie Gibb and Chad Daybell.

Describing that weekend, Audrey said that when she observed Lori and Chad that evening, “There was just kind of a vibe” and that there were shared glances between the two. At the time, Lori was married to Charles Vallow and Chad was married to Tammy Daybell.

MORE: ID v. Lori Vallow Daybell: Daily Trial Updates

During that weekend in 2018, Audrey said that she also met Tylee Ryan for a few minutes.

Audrey testified that she next met Lori in February 2019, when Chad asked her to be Lori’s friend. Chad allegedly told Audrey that he was unable to talk to Lori all the time and wanted Audrey to be a friend that she could talk to. She began to speak with Lori every few weeks, mostly about spiritual things.

In the winter of 2019, when Audrey asked Lori about how Tylee was doing in college, Lori allegedly told her that Tylee didn’t talk to her much these days.

The next time Audrey said she saw Lori in person was at a conference in Utah in Summer 2019. She said that Lori spoke to her about wanting to work on her husband, Charles. She said that it was around that time that Lori began talking about zombies and people being possessed – ideas she said Lori had never mentioned previously.

Audrey testified that at one point, Lori directed everyone to hold hands, and she did so believing that the group was going to join in a prayer. Audrey testified that Lori then began saying that she was going to try to get a spirit out of Charles. Audrey described her saying things about knives and fire and weapons. Audrey said that she became uncomfortable and did not say anything and left shortly after.

In testimony talking about her relationship with Chad, Audrey said that she met him at an event in St. George, where she learned he was an author and purchased some of his books.

Sketch of Lori Vallow Daybell in court

Lori Vallow Daybell listens to testimony from Audrey Barattiero on May 3, 2023. (Sketch by Lisa Cheney)

Audrey said that Chad told her in January or February 2019 that he had a near-death experience and was told by a deceased relative that Tammy would pass away before she turned 50. He also allegedly said that he felt that he would get married again.

WATCH: Melanie Gibb Testifies About Weekend With Lori Vallow Daybell

Audrey moved to Missouri, and Lori came to visit her new home with her niece, Melani Boudreaux (now Pawlowski) in October 2019. Audrey said the women said they came on the trip to see church sites, and while there claimed that her husband, Charles, her children, and Chad’s wife Tammy were all zombies. Audrey testified that Lori told her that Tammy had a spirit within her that needed to be taken out. When Audrey told Lori that she did not want to be involved, she said that Lori pressured her, saying, “You’re supposed to be my friend, you’re supposed to help me…I didn’t do those things…I said that I would say a prayer.”

Audrey testified that Lori told her that Tammy’s spirit was in a cage or jail and that Tammy needed to be freed. Audrey said that Chad said something to the effect of, “Why is the body still alive?”

At a trip later that month to Hawaii, Audrey testified that Lori told her that Tammy passed away a week before in her sleep. She described Lori as agitated and snippy towards Melani and showing different emotions all of the time.

Audrey testified that she ended her trip early and decided to end her friendship with Lori because she became afraid. When she went to pack her bags to leave, she asked Lori if anything weird was going on. Lori said ‘no, what do you mean,’ and when Audrey turned to go up the stairs she said that Lori began to laugh and said, “You’re so naive.”

Audrey said that Lori then threatened to kill her. “She said that she would cut me up and something about that she wasn’t in the mental place to do that. … Something about trash bags and then she would bury me.”

During re-cross, Lori’s attorney challenged Audrey’s accounts, saying that she never gave testimony detailing threats to the grand jury. Audrey responded saying that she was scared because Lori said she would chop her up and said, “I’ll come find you in the dark of night.”

The next witness called to the stand was Detective Vincente Kaaiakamanu, who testified about the investigation into Tammy’s death and an incident where she was shot at. The detective read an email into the record that was sent from Tammy to her son, Mark, that described the shooting. In it she said that she realized someone was by the back of her car and looked up to see “a guy dressed in black with a ski mask on pointing a rifle at me. … For some reason I just kept asking him what he thought I was doing. At that point I was more annoyed than scared.”

Sketch of Detective Vincente Kaaiakamanu with charts around him

Detective Vincente Kaaiakamanu testified in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell on May 3, 2023. (Sketch by Lisa Cheney)

Kaaiakamanu testified that Tammy initially described the gun that she saw as a paintball gun, but when guns were seized from the Daybell property, one in particular stuck out to him because it had a larger scope and could have been the weapon that Tammy described.

Detective Kaaiakamanu testified to finding an email from Charles Vallow to Tammy Daybell saying that Charles was aware of possible cheating between their spouses and that he wanted to talk to Tammy and did not want to send all of the information in an email. He said that he was unable to say whether Tammy ever saw the email.

Among the weapons removed from Alex Cox’s home during the course of the investigation was a Grendel 6.5 with a vortex scope, as well as solvent traps that were used to make a homemade suppressor.  Kaaiakamanu testified that the weapon with scope would have looked enough like a paintball gun that it could have been the weapon pointed at Tammy Daybell before her death.

During cross-examination, Kaaikamanu testified that no shell casings or bullets were found at the scene.

Ian Pawlowski, who married Lori’s niece, Melani, was the next witness called to testify. Ian said that he met Lori shortly after he began dating Lori, in November 2019. He testified that he met Chad at the same time and that the two were together when they met in what appeared to be a “close, supportive relationship.”

Ian said that he was open to hearing Lori’s beliefs. He self-identifies as a member of the Church of LDS, and described himself as going through a “religious renaissance” after a difficult divorce when he met Lori and Chad. Ian said that after a few days, he stopped being open to Lori’s ideas after hearing her talk about people being possessed, and described the rankings of light and dark as “alarming.”

“The point where it really turned for me was the morning after my marriage to Melani,” Ian said on the witness stand. “Melani had dumped her fears on me, everything she had been experiencing. … The next morning I got up and my daughter was gone.” Ian said that his daughter was found 15 minutes later, giggling behind a curtain, but after hearing Melani talk he was increasingly concerned.

Ian testified that less than a week after he married Melani on November 30, 2019, he was talking to police who asked him to make recordings of conversations with Chad and Lori. Ian testified that both Lori and Chad encouraged him to cooperate as little as possible with law enforcement and to get out of town.