A jury in Idaho found Lori Vallow Daybell guilty on Friday of murdering two of her children and conspiracy to kill her husband’s ex-wife.
A punishment date has not been set. Before the trial began, Seventh Judicial District Judge Steven Boyce granted a request from Ms. Vallow Daybell’s attorneys to remove the death penalty from the table.
The trial, in Boise, Idaho, began April 3 after years of delays. Mrs. Vallow Daybell had initially been declared incompetent to stand trial and required psychiatric treatment.
In opening statements, prosecutors described her as a negligent mother who believed she was on a “religious mission” that she valued more than caring for her children.
Prosecutors said she believed her children were “zombies” possessed by evil spirits.
By Wednesday, weeks after the trial began, the prosecution had called about 60 witnesses, according to a local news station, Fox 10. Closing arguments were held on Thursday.
Ms. Vallow Daybell did not testify in her own defense, and her attorneys dropped their case without calling a single witness, Boise State Public Radio reported. Her lawyers told the judge they did not believe the state had proven its case.
Judge Boyce, at the request of Ms. Vallow Daybell’s attorneys, had banned cameras from the courtroom during the trial. But he allowed the verdict to be streamed online on Friday.
Ms. Vallow Daybell, 49, and her husband, Chad Daybell, 54, had been indicted by a grand jury and pleaded not guilty in connection with the deaths of two of Ms. Vallow’s children. Vallow Daybell, Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua Vallow, 7, better known as JJ
In addition to being convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of the children and grand larceny, Mrs. Vallow Daybell was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Tammy Daybell, Mr. Daybell’s former wife. . Mr. Daybell has been charged with first-degree murder in that death.
After the verdict was read, Larry Woodcock, JJ’s grandfather, told reporters outside the courthouse that his heart ached.
“From the very beginning it started with two missing kids, and I got up and said, ‘Where are the kids? Where are the children? Where are the children?” said Mr Woodcock. He said he intended to attend the sentencing so he could ask Ms. Vallow Daybell directly, “Why, Lori?” Why, Lori? Why?”
Tylee and JJ were reported missing in November 2019 by JJ’s grandparents. Officers from the Rexburg Police Department in Idaho attempted a welfare check and later executed search warrants at the apartment complex where Ms. Vallow Daybell and her husband lived, but authorities said the couple did not seem concerned about the children’s whereabouts .
In February 2020, Ms. Vallow Daybell was arrested in Hawaii under a warrant issued by Idaho authorities, after she said she had failed to cooperate with the search for the missing children. In June 2020, investigators found human remains buried on Mr. Daybell’s property in Idaho, which were later identified as belonging to his wife’s missing children.
During Ms. Vallow Daybell’s trial, Detective Ray Hermosillo of the Rexburg Police Department described photographs of the children’s remains. A DNA analyst testified that a hair stuck to duct tape wrapping JJ’s body matched his mother, according to The Associated Press.
Former friends of Ms Vallow Daybell spoke about the couple’s alleged religious beliefs at the trial. One of them, Melanie Gibb, said Ms Vallow Daybell believed evil spirits could turn people into “zombies” by taking over their bodies, and called JJ and Tylee “zombies”, the AP reported.
Detective Hermosillo said at trial that Tylee’s remains had been burned and packed in a bucket that had been buried elsewhere on Mr. Daybell’s property.
Mr. Daybell was arrested and charged with withholding evidence, and both he and Mrs. Vallow Daybell have been in custody since their arrest. The two were tried separately.
Tammy Daybell was found dead in her Idaho home in October 2019. Authorities initially said she appeared to have died of natural causes, but her body was exhumed in December after authorities began to question the circumstances of her death and the possible connection to her death. the disappearances of Mrs. Vallow Daybell’s children.
At the beginning of the trial, prosecutors revealed in court that an autopsy later determined that Tammy Daybell died of asphyxia. Mr. Daybell had increased the coverage amount of a life insurance policy for her in September 2019, just over a month before her death. Mrs. Vallow Daybell and Mr. Daybell married shortly after their husbands passed away.
Mr. Daybell would still face the death penalty if convicted, although the state of Idaho has not executed an inmate since 2012, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
The murders were the subject of a Lifetime movie, “Doomsday Mom: The Lori Vallow Story,” and a Netflix documentary series, “Sins of Our Mother.”