An Idaho jury on Thursday found Lori Vallow guilty of murdering two of her children and conspiracy to murder her husband’s first wife nearly four years ago.
She killed her two children, 7-year-old J.J. Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, around September 2019, when they went missing for months, allegedly with help from her husband, Chad Daybell. Vallow also conspired, allegedly with her husband, to kill Tammy Daybell in October 2019.
Vallow was convicted on all counts, including two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of conspiracy to commit murder and grand theft for stealing her children’s Social Security benefits after their murders.
“We told you this was about money, power and sex. We talked about religion, but this was not about religion. This was about money, power and sex,” Prosecutor Rob Wood said Thursday in his closing statements, repeating what prosecutor Lindsey Blake said in her opening statements when the trial began last month, as FOX 10 reporter Justin Lum tweeted.
Wood and prosecutor Lindsey Blake said in a Friday statement that they are “very pleased” with the verdict but declined to comment further due to the ongoing case against Daybell.
The argument diverged from the more popular media portrayal of Vallow and Daybell as religious extremists who allegedly killed J.J., Tylee and Tammy in accordance with their apocalyptic beliefs.
Vallow and Daybell met in 2018 at the Preparing A People conference, where they bonded over their apolocyptic religious beliefs and shared the idea that they had been married in a past life, Lum tweeted from inside the courtroom last month.
They referred to each other as Biblical figures named James and Elena and discussed their beliefs that people can have light or dark spirits — some so dark that they could be considered zombies, prosecutors said, according to Lum.
Meanwhile, Vallow’s defense team attempted to push blame on Daybell in their closing statements, saying Vallow “spent her whole life protecting her children.”
Lori wants to tell you how much she loves Jesus. … But is she a leader or follower? She’s not leading anyone. She’s a follower of Chad,” Archibald said Thursday. “She thinks Chad is a follower of Jesus. But he’s not. He’s a follower of the storm.”
While J.J. and Tylee were missing in 2019, and directly after Tammy’s death, Vallow and Daybell married in Hawaii in November 2019.
A Gmail account associated with Vallow searched for rings months prior, and the same account searched for wedding dresses in Kauai on the day of Tammy’s funeral, prosecutors said during the trial, according to Lum.
Months later, in June 2020, Idaho authorities located J.J. and Tylee’s remains buried on Daybell’s rural Rexburg property.
The Ada County coroner testified last month that J.J. died of asphyxiation by a plastic bag, and Tylee died of homicide by unknown means due to the fact that her remains were dismembered and badly burned before they were buried.
“Tylee, J.J. and Tammy can’t tell us what happened. But their bodies do,” prosecutor Wood said in his closing arguments.
Vallow collected J.J.’s and Tylee’s Social Security benefits — allegedly with help from Daybell — between Oct. 1, 2019, and Jan. 22, 2020, after their murder.
Authorities arrested Vallow in February 2020 and Daybell in June 2020. Vallow and Daybell were initially scheduled to have a joint trial, but Vallow refused to waive her right to a speedy trial while Daybell did not.
The couple was indicted in late May 2021 on multiple counts each of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception, and first-degree murder related to the deaths of Tylee, J.J. and Tammy Daybell, officials announced at the time.
Arizona officials in June 2021 also indicted Vallow in the July 2019 murder of her ex-husband, Charles Vallow. Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, allegedly shot Charles Vallow to death in Arizona, claiming self-defense. His death was ruled a homicide in 2021.