Lori Vallow found guilty of murder in deaths of her 2 youngest children, other charges
BOISE, ID (3TV/CBS 5/AP) — A jury convicted Lori Vallow of murder on Friday for her role in killing her two youngest children and conspiracy to murder a romantic rival in what prosecutors say was a strange doomsday-focused plot. The jury got the case around 1:15 p.m. Thursday and deliberated for hours before reaching a verdict Friday morning. The verdict was read in court shortly after 12 p.m. Vallow showed no expression as the verdict was read. Some in the courtroom gallery wiped tears from their eyes.
Seven-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and big sister Tylee Ryan were last seen alive in September 2019. Their bodies were found on June 9, 2020, in the backyard of Lori Vallow’s husband, Chad Daybell, in Idaho.
Thursday morning, prosecutors and defense attorneys made their closing arguments. Prosecutors said there was plenty of evidence that showed Vallow manipulated her brother, Alex Cox, and her then-boyfriend, Chad Daybell, into planning and carrying out the murders of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan and Chad Daybell’s previous wife, Tammy Daybell. Prosecutors said she did it because she wanted life insurance money and Chad Daybell.
Defense attorney Jim Archibald countered that there was no evidence tying his client to the killings but plenty showing she was a loving, protective mother whose life took a sharp turn when she met her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, and fell for the “weird” apocalyptic religious claims of a cult leader. Daybell told her they had been married in several previous lives and she was a “sexual goddess” who was supposed to help him save the world by gathering 144,000 followers so Jesus could return, Archibald said.
JJ’s grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock, held an emotional news conference outside court and at one point Larry Woodcock began to sing the Willie Nelson song “The Party’s Over.” “JJ, I love you,” he said, choking up. “It started with two children. I said, ‘Where are the children? Where are the children? ... Give me back my children,” he said. “This is not the end of this.”
Prosecutors said they were not able to comment on the verdict because of pending charges against Chad Daybell. In a statement, they thanked jurors for their service and said they “remain committed to pursuing justice for Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow and Tammy Daybell.”
The Tammy Douglas Daybell Foundation, an organization run by Tammy’s family that give books to children, released a statement following the guilty verdict. Tammy Daybell was an elementary school librarian before her death.
Vallow faces life in prison. Chad Daybell is being tried separately for the same crimes and his trial is still months away.
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