Lori Vallow Daybell found guilty of murdering her children

May 12, 2023, 1:07 PM | Updated: Jun 2, 2023, 4:31 pm

BOISE, IdahoLori Vallow Daybell was found guilty on each of the six counts she was facing related to a trio of killings that captured national attention from small-town Rexburg, Idaho.

Click here for complete coverage of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

A jury of 12 returned a verdict Friday and Vallow Daybell was found:

  • guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree of Tylee Ryan and grand theft by deception
  • guilty of murder in the first degree of Tylee Ryan
  • guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree of Joshua Jaxon Vallow and grand theft by deception
  • guilty of murder in the first degree of Joshua Jaxon Vallow
  • guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree of Tammy Daybell
  • guilty of grand theft

She was convicted of killing her two children — JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan — and conspiring to kill them while profiting financially for the deaths. She was also found guilty for conspiracy to kill her fifth and current husband Chad Daybell‘s late wife, Tammy Daybell.

Chad Daybell also faces charges related to the killings but he isn’t expected to face trial until next year, possibly in June 2024.The children’s bodies were discovered buried on his property.

Tammy Daybell was already buried in Springville, Utah, where her body was later exhumed and the death was ruled a homicide. Less than three weeks after her Oct. 19, 2019 death, her husband married Lori Vallow Daybell on Nov. 5 of the same year, in Hawaii.

The prosecution and defense delivered closing arguments Thursday morning, followed by jury instruction. The jury deliberated until early Thursday evening before the court was informed they reached a verdict before noon on Friday.

Outside the Ada County Courthouse where the trial was moved from the Rexburg area where the crimes were committed, a crowd gathered with the media to hear the verdict, as it was streamed.

When the final count was read as “guilty” cheers went up. Whoops and celebrations continued for several minutes.

Shortly after the jury’s decision was made public, the prosecution released the following statement:

“We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict, and we want to thank them, as well as the alternates, for their service over last six weeks during this trial.

Given the pending case against the co-defendant, we are unable to conduct any additional interviews or discuss further details of this matter. We want to assure each of you that we remain committed to pursuing justice for Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow, and Tammy Daybell.

We also want to express sincere appreciation to the many members of law enforcement and the community who tirelessly worked together to hold Lori Vallow Daybell accountable.”

The trial had moments of drama, including a claim by a former friend that Vallow Daybell threatened to cut her up.

Prosecutors and many of the law enforcement investigators involved in the case walked out of the courthouse in a group to more cheers. They showed little emotion.

JJ’s grandparents Larry and Kay Woodcock also exited the courthouse to cheers and the singing of the Queen song, “We Will Rock You.” Larry Woodcock played the song before court Friday and previously played video of JJ singing songs with him.

Timeline of events

Rexburg police acted on a requested welfare check for Vallow Daybell’s adopted son JJ Vallow on Nov. 26, 2019. Officers testified that they had been given false information while performing the check and federal authorities and a warrant were involved almost immediately after.

The warrant was served the following day. The search for JJ expanded to Tylee Ryan and investigators then looked with more scrutiny at Tammy Daybell’s death.

Vallow Daybell was eventually located and arrested in Hawaii with her new husband, Daybell, on Feb. 20, 2020. She was extradited to Idaho two weeks later.

On April 9, 2020 a letter from the Idaho Attorney General’s office stated that Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell were under investigation for murder.

JJ and Tylee’s remains were discovered on June 9, 2020.

Police release gruesome details in investigation of Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell

The results of Tammy Daybell’s autopsy were not released until the trial, when it was revealed in opening arguments for the prosecution that she was killed by asphyxiation and not of a heart attack, as previously believed.

Tammy Daybell’s medical examiner later testified that evidence showed Tammy Daybell may have been restrained before her death. 

Vallow Daybell has also been indicted in Arizona for the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, but that charge is not part of the current trial.

The defense

The defense, claiming the prosecution did not prove its case, did not call any witnesses to testify.

In closing arguments, Attorney R. James “Jim” Archibald portrayed Vallow Daybell as a previously good mother to JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan who fell under the influence of Chad Daybell.

Archibald said Vallow Daybell believed Chad to be equal to Jesus in her mind.

“No one here thinks Lori actually killed anyone. That’s why she’s charged with conspiracy, because they think someone else did the killing,” Archibald told the jury. “If you find her not guilty, will that bring the kids back? Nope. What you need to be concerned of is following the law, and the lack of evidence.”

The prosecution

The prosecution argued that Vallow Daybell was part of the conspiracy to commit the murders for, as it said in its opening remarks, money, power and sex. It said a pattern of texts and seized by investigators from her iCloud drives, shows the conspiracies that led to murder.

The prosecution and defense both named Vallow Daybell’s brother Alex Cox and Chad Daybell as important parts of the conspiracy and killings. The emphasized the brutal killing of her children and the gruesome circumstances of their recovery.

“Tylee’s body was burned beyond recognition. Her body was dismembered in such a grotesque and extreme manner,” that the medical examiner couldn’t determine the cause of death, Wood said.

“JJ Vallow’s voice was silenced forever by a strip of duct tape over his mouth,” Wood said. “A white plastic bag was placed over his head, and secured with duct tape around and around from his forehead to his chin.”

Vallow Daybell never reported the kids missing but continued to collect the survivor benefit checks each child was receiving from the deaths of their fathers.

Wood also reviewed the evidence and testimony presented to jurors over the past four weeks and reminded the jurors that under Idaho law, aiding and abetting, such as by helping in the planning of a crime, is the same as a person committing it herself.

There is no question that Tylee RyanJJ, Vallow and Tammy Daybell were murdered. Who is the common thread? Lori Vallow. What does justice for these victims require? It requires a conviction of each and every count.”

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Lori Vallow Daybell found guilty of murdering her children