Close friend of Lori Vallow Daybell describes relationship with Chad Daybell, JJ’s final days

Apr 13, 2023, 5:03 PM | Updated: Mar 26, 2024, 4:05 pm

A court artist's sketch of Melanie Gibb testifying in the murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell in Bo...

A court artist's sketch of Melanie Gibb testifying in the murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell in Boise, Idaho. (Pool)


BOISE, Idaho — Melanie Gibb took the stand Thursday to describe her former best friend Lori Vallow Daybell’s descent into radical beliefs that she says led the mother charged with murder to claim her children were zombies, and that Chad Daybell’s wife would die.

Thursday marked Day 9 in the trial of Vallow Daybell, who has been charged with conspiracy, murder and grand theft in the deaths of her two children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and Chad Daybell’s wife, Tammy Daybell.

Click here for complete coverage of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

Gibb, who became close with Vallow Daybell starting in 2018, detailed a tense relationship between Tylee and her mother, the alleged affair between Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell while both of their spouses were alive, and the fringe religious beliefs held by the couple that convinced them they were destined to be together.

Gibb also told prosecutors about a Sept. 22, 2019, trip to Rexburg, Idaho, where she stayed with Vallow Daybell that coincides with the last known time JJ was seen alive.

Gibb started her testimony describing Vallow Daybell’s relationship with 7-year-old, JJ, who had special needs, and how over time her relationship with Chad Daybell “distracted” her, to the point where she couldn’t care for her son as much.

“Just right before he was killed, she just indicated he (JJ) was difficult to handle. And so, it was hard for her to do that and be with Chad,” she said.

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Vallow Daybell appeared to be wearing red lipstick in court Thursday, shackled to the floor in large, black boots, loose pinstriped pants and a white shawl. Though Gibb avoided direct eye contact with her former friend, Vallow repeatedly scowled and shook her head at moments during the testimony, whispering animatedly to her attorney.

Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell met in 2019 at a religious conference called “Preparing A People” in St. George, Utah, catered to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but not affiliated with the church. Gibb says the two immediately hit it off. “She seemed very interested in him, like someone who was very attracted. She seemed very flattered by him, she seemed very flirty,” Gibb told Idaho prosecutor Lindsey A. Blake. “… He told her that they had been married in another time period.”

While both of Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell’s spouses were still alive, the couple would often meet, staying at hotels, Gibb said. Vallow Daybell said they used their fringe beliefs to justify the affair.

“Because they had been married in multiple lives and because they had a mission together, it was OK,” Gibb told the prosecutor.

Gibb testified that Vallow Daybell told her that she and Daybell believed their spouses were going to die, and then they could be together.

Vallow Daybell’s husband, Charles Vallow, was shot to death by her now deceased brother, Alex Cox, who claimed the shooting was self defense. A grand jury in Arizona’s Maricopa County has indicted Vallow Daybell of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in his July 2019 death.

Tammy Daybell, Chad Daybell’s wife, died in October 2019 after Chad Daybell told police she died in her sleep after she went to bed with a cough. Investigators later exhumed her body, and prosecutors in opening arguments Monday revealed she died of asphyxiation at the hands of another person.

Just over two weeks later, Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell were married on a beach in Hawaii, exchanging rings they bought while Tammy was still alive.

On Sept. 22 — which is also the date a picture of JJ was taken, showing him on a couch wearing red pajamas — Gibb was visiting Vallow Daybell in Rexburg. Gibb said Vallow Daybell told her JJ was possessed.

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“She would tell me he would say things like ‘I love Satan.’ She told me he would climb up on the refrigerator and go on top of the cabinets,” Gibb said. She went on to testify she never personally saw any behavior like what Vallow described from the 7-year-old, and was skeptical of her claim.

After Tammy Daybell died, Gibb said Lori Vallow Daybell “was very happy to move on and get married to Chad. She was very excited about getting married to him.” Gibb said her friend never expressed any sadness, similar to her demeanor after her husband Charles Vallow died.

During the cross examination, Vallow Daybell’s attorney John Thomas questioned how Gibb knew the intimate details involving Vallow Daybell’s relationship with her children, and Chad Daybell.

But the bulk of the questions revolved around the couple’s extreme beliefs — specifically, Gibbs’ involvement. She admitted to wanting to believe what Vallow Daybell said at times. “She’s very convincing,” she said

Still, Gibbs tried repeatedly to distance herself during the cross examination, telling Thomas that she did not totally buy into the notion of “zombies” or a spectrum of lightness and darkness, at least to the extent that Vallow Daybell appeared to.

“It felt very unusual. But it felt very innocent to me,” she said.

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Close friend of Lori Vallow Daybell describes relationship with Chad Daybell, JJ’s final days