Lori Vallow: How did loving mother become obsessed with radical doomsday beliefs and allow her kids to be killed?
In the fall of 2014, Lori became obsessed with Chad Daybell’s books that dealt with Doom’s day
The close-knit religious community of Rexburg, Idaho, went into shock in June 2020 when the remains of two kids were found in the backside of a home, who had been missing for months. The children were, seven-year-old Joshua 'JJ' Vallow, and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, whose mother was Lori Vallow. Like most of the mothers out there, Lori was also a loving, caring mother. In the words of her oldest son, Colby, Lori was “a cheerleader, funny, very close to her siblings, especially my uncle Alex Cox.”
Though the 46-year-old mother was arrested in Hawaii in February 2020, after she failed to produce proof of life for her missing kids in January, her good image tarnished when on June 9, 2020, human remains were found at her fifth husband's house. Fifteen to twenty cops were at Chad Daybell’s house with K-9 dogs on that day, who discovered the remains. Nate Eaton, News Director, East Idaho News, said on IN JUSTICE WITH GRACE 2: “We got a call in the morning. There has been hope in the community that the kids were still alive and maybe hidden away somewhere. But that moment that hope turned into immense sadness and anger.”
So what happened in Lori’s past that allegedly resulted in her kids’ murder?
Lori divorced her third husband, Joseph Ryan, in 2004 as she reportedly suffered domestic violence. Ryan was Tylee’s father and Colby’s adoptive father. After the divorce, she took her children with her and worked hard to make ends meet. The doting mother worked as a hairstylist. She soon met Charles Vallow and in February 2006, they exchanged vows. After her marriage with Charles, Lori seemingly found happiness after three failed marriages. Colby said, “My mom grew up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She always had a belief in Christ and saw through a lot of brokenness and hurt. I think my mom always looked for stability, looked for someone who would take care of her.”
The pair adopted JJ in July 2014 and led a very happy life until the fall of that year. Eaton explained, “I spoke to the woman who worked closely with Lori and she told me that Lori picked up a book in the Fall of 2014 about Chad Daybell’s teachings and became obsessed with it. He wrote over 2000 books often dealing with Doom’s day, the end of time.”
It has been said that Daybell wrote in his book that he has had nearly death experience. He was in California near the beach and a large wave crashed him down and at that point, he said his body was separated from his soul. He said he was able to receive direct messages from God, he communicated with his ancestors. Daybell believed that the world was going to end with floods, fire, earthquakes, and the second coming of Jesus Christ to happen around July 2020. His books were on podcasts, the internet, and he was idolized. Lori became so obsessed with Daybell that he began communicating with him via various sources. She felt like she had some direct connection with God.
Annie Cushing, Lori’s sister said, “Any crazy thought she thought God was trying to connect with her.” And in the fall of 2018, Lori and Daybell met. He allegedly told her he was the latest incarnation of a prophet and they were married in their previous life. Rick Boss, Executive director, Cult Education Institute, said, “In the writings of the Morman Church, Doctrine and Conventions, there is mention of a church of the firstborn that would be an elite group that has a special role at the end of the world. So Chad is pitching his doomsday books to the largely eldest Mormian audience.” Boss also explained that Daybell usually targeted people with troubled pasts and since Lori had bad experiences she was easy to control.
Not just Lori, Daybell found another follower in her brother Alex. At one point, he also told Lori that her husband Charles has become a zombie and she started believing him. Her behavior became so strange that Charles had to call the police on January 31, 2019, telling Lori is dangerous. But his warning was not taken seriously and as a result, he filed for divorce and custody of JJ. That same year in July, when Charles tried to pick up the child from Lori’s home, a heated custody argument ensued and Alex shot Charles dead, claiming self-defense. Alex mysteriously died in December 2019.
Daybell also made her believe that her kids, JJ and Tylee, had been possessed and had become zombies. Melanie Gibb, Lori’s friend, said she met her on September 19, 2020, when she said JJ was possessed by a zombie and she was going to take him to his granny. Gibb also said that the entire visit she did not see Tylee and she was not spoken of. According to Gibb, JJ was last seen on September 22, 2019.
Though the case of JJ and Tylee remains a mystery to date, Lori and Daybell are behind bars. Neither of them has been charged with the kids’ death, but the mother faces two counts of conspiracy to conceal, destroy, or alter evidence in the case while her Daybell, who is also her fifth husband, faces two felony counts of concealment of evidence and two felony counts of conspiracy to conceal evidence in the case.