Idaho triple murder trial of slain kids’ mom drawing to end
Idaho prosecutors have spent the last four weeks presenting their case against a woman accused of killing her two youngest children and a romantic rival in a bizarre doomsday-focused plot.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho prosecutors have spent the last four weeks painstakingly detailing their case against a woman accused of killing her two youngest children and a romantic rival in a bizarre doomsday-focused plot.
On Thursday, they are expected to present their final arguments to the jury in the triple murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell. Vallow Daybell’s defense team, meanwhile, will likely attempt to persuade jurors that there simply isn’t enough evidence to justify a conviction.
Vallow Daybell and her husband, Chad Daybell, are charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, murder and grand theft 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 are being tried separately. Vallow Daybell faces up to life in prison if she is convicted. Chad Daybell’s trial is still months away.
At times, the testimony in the case has been heartbreaking — such as when Vallow Daybell’s only surviving child, Colby Ryan, accused her of murdering his siblings in a recorded jailhouse phone call.
Other testimony has been strange, like when Vallow Daybell’s former friend 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 kids. Four of the people the defendant described as “zombies” were later killed or shot at, according to the testimony.
It has also been gruesome, such as when law enforcement officers testified about finding JJ and Tylee’s remains buried in Chad Daybell’s yard. JJ’s body had been wrapped in duct tape and plastic, and Tylee’s remains had been destroyed and burned with her bones showing evidence of chopping or stabbing marks, the witnesses said. Hair belonging to Vallow Daybell was found on a piece of duct tape used to wrap JJ, a DNA analyst testified.
Vallow Daybell’s defense attorneys, meanwhile, did not call any witnesses, and Vallow Daybell declined to testify. Instead, defense attorney Jim Archibald asserted that they did not believe prosecutors had proven their case, suggesting that there was not enough evidence to find 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 and killed by her brother, Alex Cox, at his home in a Phoenix suburb. Lori and Charles were estranged, and he had filed divorce documents claiming that 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 he was never charged in connection with the death. Cox died later that year of what authorities determined were natural causes. Lori Vallow Daybell was later charged in Arizona in connection with Charles Vallow’s death; she has not yet had the opportunity to enter a plea in that case.
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 eastern Idaho with her brother and kids to be closer to Chad Daybell.
The children were last seen alive in September of 2019. Police discovered they were missing a month later after an extended family member became worried that she wasn’t able to get ahold of JJ. Their bodies were found the following summer.