Lori Vallow Daybell guilty of unimaginable crimes
The crimes are unimaginable. Lori Vallow Daybell stood trial for the murder of her own children — 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old JJ Vallow. She was also accused of killing Tammy Daybell, the wife of her current husband Chad Daybell.
Here was prosecutor Lindsey Blake.
PROSECUTOR LINDSEY BLAKE (in court): Money, power, and sex. That's what this case is about. It didn't matter what obstacles she had to remove to get what she wanted. … and if it was a person, it didn't matter who.
Morgan Loew | Investigative reporter, KTVK/KPHO: Lori was a beauty contestant. … Anybody you spoke to who knew Lori back then said that she was like the mother of the year.
Morgan Loew: The problem really seems to have started when Lori started following Chad Daybell … Chad was a podcaster and author of doomsday novels.
Then, in late 2019 Lori's two children mysteriously disappeared.
Morgan Loew: Meantime, Lori and Chad are on the beach in Hawaii having the time of their lives. …They get married. … and they wouldn't talk to police at all. And they wouldn't tell anybody where the kids were.
Morgan Loew: Even after Lori was arrested, she still refused to say anything about where the kids were.
Months after vanishing into thin air, the remains of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan were found buried in Chad Daybell's backyard.
Morgan Loew: What we have gathered was that Chad had this belief that some people who were on this earth weren't really the people they were supposed to be. … They were zombies. … And the only way to release their spirits … was to kill the bodies. … And if that's not disturbing enough … Lori started referring to her children as zombies.
APRIL RAYMOND | FORMER FRIEND OF LORI VALLOW DAYBELL (In court): she had described Tylee as having a dark spirit. … I feel like she's kind of a monster.
Morgan Loew: I've thought a lot about why this story hits such a chord with a wide variety of people, and I think it's because these kids. … And then when you throw in the cult aspect of this … We've certainly seen movies … with all of this. But I'm not sure we've ever seen anything like this in real life in true crime.
STRANGER THAN FICTION
Beginning in 2019, Lori Vallow Daybell spent months denying her missing children were in danger.
Many, including her sister Summer Shiflet believed her at the time.
Jonathan Vigliotti | "48 Hours" contributor: Something's not adding up here. Where are they? Where is JJ and Tylee?
Summer Shiflet: It's a great question. We would love to know the answer to that. We don't know. … But, we know, we are very confident that Lori would never harm her children, ever.
But during four weeks of testimony, the prosecution chipped away at the facade of the former beauty contestant until it exposed Lori Vallow Daybell for the person, it claimed, she really was.
Morgan Loew is an investigative reporter for KTVK/KPHO and a CBS News consultant.
Morgan Loew: Prosecutors have painted a picture of somebody who is ruthless, somebody who would do anything to get what she wants.
According to the prosecution, Lori was a master puppeteer pulling the strings in a heinous murder plot that left three innocent people dead: her 16-year-old daughter Tylee Ryan, her 7-year-old son, JJ Vallow, and Tammy Daybell, Chad Daybell's wife of almost 30 years.
PROSECUTOR LINDSEY BLAKE (in court): It didn't matter what obstacles she had to remove to get what she wanted.
"48 Hours" has been following the twisted saga of the so-called cult mom and her paramour Chad Daybell since the story broke in 2019 — months before the remains of her two children were discovered in shallow graves in Chad Daybell's backyard. When we started, it was almost inconceivable to friends like April Raymond that she would harm her children.
April Raymond: She did everything for JJ, everything for Tylee. They were … the center of her world. And so, I'm not sure what hijacked that priority.
Raymond met Lori in 2015 in Hawaii. At the time, Lori was married to businessman Charles Vallow. The couple were raising two children – Tylee, Lori's teenage daughter from a former marriage, and their adopted son JJ, who was diagnosed with autism.
April Raymond: JJ was very difficult to take care of … So … I really admired how patient she was with him and how much care she took of him.
His big sister was just as devoted to him, says Tylee's best friend Vaisia Itaaehau,
Vaisia Itaaehau: I loved being around JJ and Tylee. Tylee was really protective over JJ. … and she was kind of like another mama to him. I just kind of loved how — she would — just play with him and just always have, like, a really good time with him.
Vaisia Itaaehau: And I really love JJ. He's the sweetest soul I've ever met.
But around 2017, friends say Lori's relationships with her kids began to shift — about the time she started reading the books of Chad Daybell. Daybell was a former gravedigger-tuned-doomsday novelist and podcaster from Rexburg, Idaho.
Morgan Loew: He tapped into this "prepper" element out there, people who wanted to prepare for Armageddon.
Lori met Chad Daybell for the first time in 2018 — at a conference in St. George, Utah.
Morgan Loew: The first time Chad met Lori, he told her that they had been married in a past life … He said he was James, and she was Elena. And that they had lived this biblical life in the past … And instead of scaring her off, it seems to have attracted her.
Even though Lori was still married to Charles Vallow and Chad Daybell was married to the mother of his five children, Tammy Daybell — Lori's friend Melanie Gibb testified the two soon began an affair.
PROSECUTOR LINDSEY BLAKE (in court): Did Lori ever tell you directly that she and Chad would meet at hotels or motels?
MELANIE GIBB: Yes.
PROSECUTOR LINDSEY BLAKE: Did Lori ever indicate to you whether or not she and Chad were engaged in an affair?
MELANIE GIBB: She would just share that they were intimate.
Witnesses testified that Lori took on Chad Daybell's extreme religious beliefs, says Morgan Loew.
Morgan Loew: Lori believed that she was chosen to lead the 144,000 after the apocalypse. To lead the survivors of the human race to an eternal life while the rest of society burned.
She also believed she had been appointed another, more ominous role, says Raymond.
April Raymond: Part of her mission on Earth was to eliminate the darkness, the demonic — the evil.
Raymond says Lori told her one of those evil beings was her own husband — Charles Vallow.
April Raymond: The way she had explained it to me about Charles was that Charles was already dead. And that there was a demon living inside of him.
For the first time, we heard at trial that Lori held what she called casting ceremonies.
Morgan Loew: It involved getting into a circle with other like-minded followers and casting out dark spirits from people, getting rid of demons.
Lori's friend, Zulema Pastenes, attended several of these castings. On the stand, she talked about one of the demons Lori claimed was living inside Charles Vallow.
ZULEMA PASTENES (in court): There are certain spirits that can only be cast out by prayer and, and fasting
PROSECUTOR RACHEL SMITH: And was that that spirit or demons name?
ZULEMA PASTENES: I believe they called him Ned.
Ned Schneider to be precise. In January 2019, Charles Vallow was so spooked by Lori's ramblings about the demon named Ned he called police.
OFFICER DORENBUSH (bodycam): What did she say yesterday?
CHARLES VALLOW: She said, you're not Charles. I don't know who you are, what you did with Charles.
Their conversation was recorded on the officer's bodycam:
OFFICER DORENBUSH: OK. So, what makes her a danger to herself and to others?
CHARLES VALLOW: She threatened me, murder me, kill me.
OFFICER DORENBUSH: She threatened to murder you?
CHARLES VALLOW: Yes.
In the winter of 2019, Charles Vallow changed the beneficiary of his $1 million life insurance policy from Lori to his sister Kay Woodcock, JJ's biological grandmother.
After almost 13 years of marriage, Vallow filed for divorce.
CHARLES VALLOW [to police officer]: She's unhinged. It scared the crap out of me.
Charles Vallow had good reason to be scared.
CASTING OUT EVIL SPIRITS
On the morning of July 11, 2019, Charles Vallow went to the Chandler, Arizona, home of his estranged wife, Lori Vallow, to pick up JJ and take him to school.
Morgan Loew: He goes into the house. Lori and Tylee and JJ are there, and so is Alex Cox.
Alex Cox — Lori's brother. At trial, Lori's friend Zulema Pastenes, who would later marry Cox, testified that Chad Daybell had assigned him a mission ordained by God.
ZULEMA PASTENES: Chad had told him that he was going to be a warrior, a defender … And the sole purpose for him coming to this earth was so that he could be Lori's protector and defender.
PROSECUTOR RACHEL SMITH: Did Alex believe this?
ZULEMA PASTENES: Absolutely.
Shortly after Charles Vallow entered Lori's home that summer morning in 2019, Alex Cox – the defender – shot him dead.
At 8:36 a.m., Cox calmly called 911.
911 DISPATCHER: Is he breathing?
ALEX COX: I can't tell.
Morgan Loew: He said, "I need to report a shooting. I shot my brother-in-law in self-defense."
911 DISPATCHER: And is he hurt? Is he alive, or?
ALEX COX: Yeah, there's blood. He's not moving.
The police arrived and shot video of Cox on the curb outside the home. Cox told them Charles Vallow and Lori got into a fight.
CHANDLER POLICE OFFICER. [bodycam video]: So, you get in an argument? What is it over?
ALEX COX: Well, it was over my sister. He was getting physical with her.
Cox told them he got between Charles Vallow and Lori and shot Charles in the chest when Charles charged at him. At some point, Lori, Tylee and JJ got into the car and left.
Morgan Loew: Lori … takes JJ to school. And she comes back later with Tylee.
Police bodycam caught the moment.
POLICE OFFICER [Bodycam video]: How long have you lived here?
LORI VALLOW: Like three weeks.
POLICE OFFICER: Oh geez, yeah, OK.
LORI VALLOW: That's why the neighbors don't know us very well.
POLICE OFFICER: Gotcha.
LORI VALLOW: Like, "Hi neighbors, sorry" [laughs].
Morgan Loew: What was striking about the footage that we saw was that … There's no remorse. There's no, "Oh, my gosh, my husband's dead."
Lori, Cox and Tylee were questioned at the police headquarters. All told similar stories of self-defense and were sent home.
Three days later, Chad Daybell and Lori were exchanging steamy texts. FBI Agent Doug Hart read one on the stand.
AGENT DOUG HART (reading texts): "I need so badly to just gently kiss you for hours."
"It would likely lead to other activities."
"Likely or luckily?"
"It would luckily lead to nakedness."
But prosecutors say the lovers were in for a big surprise. They were about to find out that Charles Vallow had changed the beneficiary of that $1 million life insurance policy.
Detective Nathan Duncan read Lori's text to Chad Daybell after she found out:
DET. NATHAN DUNCAN: "I just got the letter from the insurance company saying that I am not the beneficiary. It's a spear through my heart."
Morgan Loew: This is one of the strongest points that prosecutors have made is that Lori was motivated by money. She wanted Charles's money.
According to prosecutors, Lori started drawing the Social Security death benefits JJ received from his father, Charles Vallow. She moved with her two kids to Rexburg, Idaho – not far from where Chad Daybell lived with his wife, Tammy. Lori's brother, Alex Cox, her designated defender, moved into the same complex.
Morgan Loew: He was there to take care of the problems.
Prosecutors alleged Lori's first problem was her 16- year-old daughter Tylee Ryan. According to Pastenes, Lori told her that a demon named Hillary had taken over Tylee's body.
PROSECUTOR RACHEL SMITH: Now, if somebody is possessed by a demon, are those people dangerous?
ZULEMA PASTENES: They're considered to be dark and to bring only bad things to happen. Yeah. So, yes, would be dangerous.
The last known pictures of Tylee Ryan were taken on Sept. 8, 2019. She was with Lori, JJ and Alex Cox at Yellowstone National Park. The 16-year-old was never seen again.
Morgan Loew: Tylee was JJ's protector. …Once she was gone, JJ had nobody. He had nobody to protect him or watch out for him.
Just two weeks later, JJ Vallow went missing. A photo of JJ wearing red pajamas was taken on Sept. 22, 2019. It is the last known photo of him. Melanie Gibb, who was staying at Lori's house that evening, says she saw Alex take JJ upstairs, she believes, to Lori's room. But the little boy was nowhere to be seen the next morning.
PROSECUTOR LINDSEY BLAKE: Is that when she told you JJ was a zombie?
MELANIE GIBB: Yes.
Gibb told prosecutors Alex Cox believed JJ was a zombie as well.
MELANIE GIBB: He said he 100 percent believed it.
Morgan Loew: According to their religious teachings, a zombie had to be killed. The body had to die.
And the body count was climbing. According to prosecutors Lori and Chad had identified another evil spirit in their way.
Morgan Loew: What we learned from witness after witness is that Chad told some people … That his wife was not gonna be around much longer, and that he was gonna have a life before Tammy and a life after Tammy.
VANISHED: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CHILDREN?
The week after JJ was last seen and two months before the world would learn that the children were missing, Lori Vallow was planning her fifth wedding. At trial, prosecutors called an FBI specialist to the stand.
PROSECUTOR LINDSE Y BLAKE (in court): Did you learn whether or not there ever was a successful purchase of wedding rings?
NICOLE HEIDEMAN | FBI SPECIALIST: There were. On Oct 2, 2019.
Morgan Loew: There was just one problem: Chad was still married to Tammy Daybell.
But that was about to change. Garth Daybell is one of five Daybell children.
Garth Daybell: I was asleep — and I heard a thump … And heard my dad yell, "Garth, Garth, come quick."
Garth found his mother, 49-year-old Tammy Daybell, lying half on the bed, half on the floor.
Garth Daybell: I just ran over and picked her up and put her back on the bed. … And I said to my dad, I said, "I think she's dead."
The coroner initially determined Tammy died of natural causes and the family declined an autopsy. Chad Daybell's neighbor, Alice Gilbert, testified that a week later, he had already moved on.
ALICE GILBERT (in court): Um, we asked him how he was doing, and he said, actually, "I'm doing really good." And that he'd met the woman he was gonna marry.
PROSECUTOR LINDSEY BLAKE: Did you find, uh, did it surprise you that he seemed to be doing so well?
ALICE GILBERT: Yes. We were shocked.
Gilbert and her husband Todd met Lori shortly after.
ALICE GILBERT: They came to the house … His arm was around her. … And she was giggling and laughing. … They looked like teenagers.
Gilbert says the conversation turned to children.
ALICE GILBERT: Then Chad said, "And she recently just lost a daughter." So, I told her, "Oh, I'm sorry." And she said, "thank you."
Morgan Loew: This is significant because at that time, Lori is still telling … her sister, and everybody else that the kids were OK … This is, like, a slip-up, an early slip-up, an admission against interests here.
It didn't seem to worry Chad and Lori on their big day. Seventeen days after Tammy Daybell's death, Lori was dancing on the beach in Hawaii as her new husband strummed his ukulele, exchanging those rings. According to investigators, the cost of the wedding trip was courtesy of the groom's dead wife's life insurance.
Morgan Loew: Little do they know that the clock is now ticking.
Soon after the newlyweds returned to Idaho, the Rexburg Police came knocking on Lori's door looking for JJ. His grandmother, Kay Woodcock, had asked authorities to do a welfare check. The conversation was recorded on the officer's bodycam. Here's Lori talking about JJ:
LORI VALLOW DAYBELL: He's with one of my friends in Arizona.
OFFICER RON BALL: Who's the friend he's with?
LORI VALLOW DAYBELL: My friend Melanie.
Chad Daybell called that friend, Melanie Gibb, who testified he asked her not to pick up the phone when the police called. Later, she says Lori asked her to lie and tell the police that JJ was staying with her in Arizona.
MELANIE GIBB (in court): And I felt a very weird and uncomfortable position and I really did not know what to do.
At first, Melanie Gibb wasn't forthcoming to the police. But 12 days later, she made a call to Lori and Chad Daybell and secretly recorded it:
MELANIE GIBB: Is JJ safe?
LORI VALLOW DAYBELL: He is safe and happy.
Chad Daybell said they couldn't tell her where JJ was for her own security.
CHAD DAYBELL: If you knew, that puts you in danger.
Gibb handed that secret recording to authorities, and investigators launched a nationwide search – but not just for JJ. They would soon learn that his big sister Tylee was also missing.
It was huge news — especially to Lori's new stepchildren.
Jonathan Vigliotti: When did you know that she had two kids?
Garth Daybell: I first heard of her children when a detective came to my work and asked me about them. I had never heard of them before that point.
Jonathan Vigliotti: So, even after your father weds Lori, you didn't know that there were two kids in the picture at that point.
Garth Daybell: Did not.
As the hunt for the children intensified, Lori and Chad Daybell again headed to Hawaii. But the honeymoon was over. Kauai authorities caught up with Lori by the pool. She would be arrested on child abandonment charges and extradited to Idaho. Chad, the loyal husband, was by her side.
But now Chad Daybell himself was under suspicion. With the children missing, that's when the police took a closer look at the death of Tammy Daybell. Her body had been exhumed on Dec. 11, 2019.
Morgan Loew: The Utah state medical examiner … saw bruising on her body, and he determined that Tammy died of asphyxiation. The … medical examiner testified that that bruising was consistent with somebody being restrained, meaning she was held down and suffocated.
Alex Cox's wife Zulema Pastenes says that when she heard about Tammy Daybell, she started pressing Cox for answers. By then, she says Lori and Chad Daybell had cut him off. On the stand, she talked about when she asked Cox what was happening.
PROSECUTOR RACHEL SMITH: What did he say?
ZULEMA PASTENES: He was very quiet and unresponsive. And then he said, "I think I'm being their fall guy." … I said, "fall guy for what? What is it that that you have done? What — what have you done that you would be the fall guy for?" And then he said, "either I am a man of God, or I am not."
Here's the prosecutor addressing that mysterious statement.
PROSECUTOR LINDSEY BLAKE: What exactly Alex meant by this or what he knew we may never know because Alex Cox died the next day on December 12th of 2019.
In a truth is stranger than fiction plot twist, the man Lori and Chad Daybell designated as her defender — her brother Alex Cox — suddenly dropped dead. An autopsy determined of natural causes.
Morgan Loew: That was a jaw-dropping moment … right before his death, it does look like Alex was second guessing what he had done and … why Chad and Lori had asked him to do what he did … It was like they either had something to do with this or fate stepped in to help them.
They say dead men don't talk. But this one did. Alex Cox's cellphone harbored a tale of horrors waiting to be discovered in Chad Daybell's backyard. And it would give prosecutors the evidence they had been waiting for.
THE SECRETS OF CHAD DAYBELL'S BACKYARD
On June 9, 2020, law enforcement descended on Chad Daybell's backyard.
According to the prosecution, Alex Cox's cellphone data placed him here for two hours the day after Tylee Ryan was last seen. Authorities later discovered her remains in this same spot.
It was an area the Daybell family once used as a pet cemetery. It now contained Tylee's badly burned remains. She had been dismembered. Detective Ray Hermosillo took the stand and described finding what was left of Tylee.
DETECTIVE RAY HERMOSILLO (in court): There was a partial human skull underneath the melted bucket.
Cox's cellphone led them to another section of the yard about 50 yards away under a shade tree. Investigators started digging. They removed a layer of rocks. Beneath the rocks they found wooden planks; below that, a layer of black plastic.
Morgan Loew: One of the crime scene investigators … cut a hole in the top of this plastic, and beneath the black plastic was some white plastic, like, plastic bag. And they cut through that.
DETECTIVE RAY HERMOSILLO: And that's when we were able to see what appeared to be brown human hair sticking out from the white plastic.
It was JJ. He was still dressed in his red pajamas and covered head to toe in duct tape.
DETECTIVE RAY HERMOSILLO: Several layers of duct tape from his chin to his forehead area. His arms were duct-taped with several layers of duct tape. … His feet were also duct-taped and bound.
Forensic pathologist Garth Warren testified how JJ had died.
GARTH WARREN | FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: I determined the cause of death to be asphyxia by plastic bag over the head and duct tape covering the mouth.
Morgan Loew: It's unimaginable what his last minutes of life were like.
Experts couldn't determine Tylee's cause of death because of the condition of her remains. But prosecutors alleged the way in which both children were killed aligned with Chad and Lori's Daybell's teachings about demons and zombies.
Morgan Loew: Zulema testifies that, if they're trying to cast a demon or a zombie out of somebody, there's two minutes after the casting where another demon can enter that person. And the only way to prevent that is to burn the person or bind them … Tylee was burned. JJ was bound.
Despite all the talk of zombies and demons, prosecutors argued that Lori's true motive to murder her kids was much more mundane.
PROSECUTOR RACHEL SMITH: Tylee had already lost her father, and she received Social Security benefits because of that. Tylee had money. Lori wanted it. Tylee's gone.
PROSECUTOR RACHEL SMITH: JJ also was entitled to Social Security benefits. The defendant didn't wanna have to take care of JJ anymore. She wanted the money. JJ's gone.
While the prosecution's case was mostly circumstantial, DNA matching Tylee's profile was found on a shovel and pickaxe in a garage on the Daybell property. A forensic specialist testified they also found a finger and palm print belonging to Alex Cox on one of the black plastic bags that covered JJ.
Morgan Loew: Investigators also found one strand of hair that was stuck in the tape that was around the bag … DNA showed that that hair belonged to Lori Vallow. That's significant, because … that's really the only physical evidence they have that ties Lori to JJ at the time of his death.
Some of the most powerful testimony in the prosecution's case came from Lori's own family.
They played an emotional jailhouse phone call between Lori and her only surviving child, son Colby Ryan.
COLBY RYAN (phone call with Lori Vallow Daybell): You've ripped my heart out and you've ripped out everyone in this family's heart out.
Then, Lori's sister Summer Shiflet took the stand. She told prosecutors that she believed Lori when she told her the children were safe.
PROSECUTOR SPENCER RAMMELL (in court): Did that change?
SUMMER SHIFLET: Yes.
PROSECUTOR SPENCER RAMMELL: Why?
SUMMER SHIFLET: I felt lied to. And my trust in my sister was broken (emotional).
Prosecutors played a jailhouse phone call between Shiflet and Lori after the children's bodies were found.
Morgan Loew: This phone call is painful to listen to. Summer is screaming at Lori.
SUMMER SHIFLET (phone call): You went off to Hawaii and were dancing on the beach while your kids were in the ground?
SUMMER SHIFLET: They were just little kids. I don't understand.
LORI VALLOW DAYBELL: You know me, Summer. Summer —
SUMMER SHIFLET: That's what I thought!
LORI VALLOW DAYBELL: You still do.
SUMMER SHIFLET: Lori, if you let that happen to them, and didn't tell us, and let them be in the ground like a piece of trash, then I don't know you!
Toward the end of its case, the prosecution put on Lori's former friend, Audrey Barattiero. She delivered some of the most damning testimony of the trial.
AUDREY BARATTIERO (in court): She threatened to kill me.
PROSECUTOR TAWNYA RAWLINGS: Did she say how?
AUDREY BARATTIERO (emotional): Yes. She said that she would cut me up. And something about, that she wasn't in the mental place to do that, but she would get herself in that place to be able to do it.
AUDREY BARATTIERO: But that she didn't want to havpe to because it'd be so messy and there'd be so, so much blood. And that — then bleach, and something about trash bags.
AUDREY BARATTIERO: And that she would bury me where, she would — where no one would ever find me.
Morgan Loew: Audrey Barattiero's testimony is critical because this is a firsthand description of Lori being ruthless, with the threat to kill her. This is the first time anyone in Lori's group of friends really described her as being capable of killing.
On cross, the defense aggressively tried to discredit Barattiero's testimony.
Defense Attorney Jim Archibald: So, you now want the jury to believe that even though you previously testified under oath, and nothing of this sort was talked about, that you come here today and say you are so scared. That's why you didn't previously testify about it.
PROSECUTOR TAWNYA RAWLINGS (in court): Objection, your Honor. Argumentative.
JUDGE STEVEN W. BOYCE: That's overruled.
AUDREY BARATTIERO: What was your question?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY JIM ARCHIBALD: You want the jury to believe that you didn't, just didn't make this last crap up?
AUDREY BARATTIERO: I did not make it up.
After 60 witnesses and four weeks of testimony, the prosecution rested its case. The defense declined to call any witnesses.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY JIM ARCHIBALD: Your Honor, after consultation with my client, we don't believe the state has proven its case. So, the defense rests.
Each side would get a last chance to persuade the jury in closing arguments.
On May 11, 2023, defense attorney Jim Archibald stood before the jury and argued for his client's innocence.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY JIM ARCHIBALD (in court): Who is Lori Vallow? What happened? Where did it happen? When did it happen? Why did it happen? That's what you've been asked to figure out.
Archibald painted a picture of Lori as a devoted mother; someone not capable of murder. He pointed to this early testimony from Lori's sister, Summer Shiflet:
SUMMER SHIFLET: I think Lori was a loving mother and Tylee adored her mother.
JIM ARCHIBALD: Were you ever concerned about the safety of Tylee around Lori?
SUMMER SHIFLET: No.
JIM ARCHIBALD: Would you ever imagine your sister wanting to kill her kids?
SUMMER SHIFLET: No.
He also directed the jury to this testimony from Lori's son, Colby Ryan:
JIM ARCHIBALD: You said, "My mom has spent her whole life protecting us kids."
COLBY RYAN: Yes.
JIM ARCHIBALD: "After she met Chad Daybell, she changed."
COLBY RYAN: I don't remember. But yes.
JIM ARCHIBALD: You never once thought your mom would hurt someone. Is that fair to say?
COLBY RYAN: Yes.
Archibald argued that there is no evidence tying Lori to the murders of Tylee or JJ. And he said that hair stuck on the duct tape used to wrap JJ's body means nothing.
Morgan Loew | Investigative reporter: Lori was raising JJ. JJ was living at Lori's house. The defense can easily argue that that hair could have gotten on JJ for 100 reasons, none of them having anything to do with murder.
Instead, Archibald shifted the blame towards Lori's husband, Chad Daybell, and her brother, Alex Cox.
JIM ARCHIBALD (in court): Remember all the GPS data? … Lori's not in the backyard when Chad and Alex are. … She's not there.
Morgan Loew: There's not one smoking gun that ties Lori to any of these murders.
And in order to explain Lori's lies to the police while the children were missing, Archibald suggested that Lori was manipulated by Chad Daybell.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY JIM ARCHIBALD (in court): How can someone have that much control over you? … Reason and common sense … just go out the windows sometimes when religious principles are involved. … Lori sees Chad as if Chad is Jesus.
Morgan Loew: Chad sold his spiel to Lori. And she bought it.
And about Tammy Daybell's death? The defense questioned whether that was even a crime.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY JIM ARCHIBALD (in court): Was she even murdered? Is it a natural death?
Morgan Loew: All they need to do is raise a couple of questions in a couple of the jurors.
But prosecutor Rob Wood would get the last word.
PROSECUTOR ROB WOOD (in court): Lori's lies tell us she's guilty. The innocent don't need to lie, the guilty lie. … Don't let Lori pin this all on one other person. She was 100% involved in this. … You must convict her.
When the case went to the jury, the jurors deliberated for seven hours over the course of two days before returning with a verdict. The court shared video of Lori Vallow Daybell as she learned her fate.
JUDGE: If the defendant would please rise.
COURT CLERK: In regards to count two of the amended indictment is Lori Norene Vallow not guilty or guilty of first-degree murder of Tylee Ryan. Answer, guilty.
COURT CLERK: In regards to count four of the amended indictment is Lori Norene Vallow not guilty or guilty of first-degree murder of Joshua Jackson Vallow. Answer, guilty.
COURT CLERK: In regards to count five of the amended indictment is Lori Norene Vallow not guilty or guilty of conspiracy to commit first degree murder of Tamara Tammy Daybell. Answer, guilty.
Guilty on all counts. Lori appeared emotionless. She will be sentenced at a later date.
As JJ's grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock, exited the courthouse, the crowd outside greeted them by singing JJ's favorite song, "We Will Rock You." Larry Woodcock had been playing the song while awaiting the verdict.
Larry Woodcock (outside court): Love always wins. … JJ, I love you (cries) Paw Paw wishes you were here. … Tylee, Paw Paw loves you. … Tammy, you are part of our life. … I am sorry for what happened to you. … My heart hurts for these three. This is what this has been all about. … Why Lori? Why Lori? Why? … Power, sex and greed, for what? For what?
It's been almost three years since the remains of Tylee, a freckle-faced teenager, and her baby brother, JJ, were found buried in a dusty patch of earth behind the home of Chad Daybell. We'll never know the lives they could have lived. But we do know what they left behind — their smiles, their laughter, their grace.
Chad Daybell may stand trial as early as June 2024. He has pleaded not guilty.
Lori Vallow Daybell may also face trial in Arizona in connection with the death of her former husband, Charles Vallow.
Produced by Liza Finley. Michael McHugh is a producer-editor. Stephanie Slifer is a producer. Greg Fisher is the development producer. Alicia Tejada is the coordinating producer. Gabriella Demirdjian, Richard Fetzer Anthony Venditti and Emily Wichick are the field producers. Chelsea Narvaez is the associate producer. Joan Adelman, Michael Baluzy, Atticus Brady, Marlon Disla, Gregory F. McLaughlin, Diana Modica, Phillip J. Tangel and Gary Winter are the editors. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.
for more features.