Lori Vallow Daybell was sentenced on Monday to a lifetime of incarceration without the potential for parole. This came following her conviction earlier this year for the orchestrated killings of two of her offspring and her participation in the murder of her spouse’s first wife.
Lori Vallow Daybell received a life imprisonment verdict for the homicides of both her children—16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow. Furthermore, she received a parallel sentence for conspiring in the assassination of Tammy Daybell, her husband Chad Daybell’s initial wife. These sentences were decreed to be served consecutively by the presiding judge. In addition, two supplementary life sentences and a ten-year term for grand theft will be served concurrently.
In the month of May, a jury found Lori culpable on all counts, which encompassed two charges of first-degree murder and three charges of conspiracy in relation to the fatalities of the children and Tammy Daybell. The bereaved families of these victims emotionally attested to the profound impact of Vallow Daybell’s transgressions on Monday, underscoring the enduring toll they have taken.
“In this realm, Tylee and JJ radiated an abundance of light,” stated Colby Ryan, the elder brother of Tylee and JJ, in a poignant statement shared by the prosecutors on Monday. “Tylee’s prospect of experiencing motherhood, matrimony, and her destined career was unjustly extinguished. Lori shall never have the life that was rightfully hers,” wrote Ryan. “As for JJ, the potential to flourish and illuminate the world has been forever diminished. He has been denied the opportunity to mature.”
In deliberating the sentence, Judge Steven W. Boyce acknowledged the defendant’s absence of a criminal record as the “singularly most mitigating factor” in the case. Nevertheless, he noted that Lori had now been convicted of the “most heinous charges” and exhibited no remorse.
“Of all offenses, murder is undoubtedly the gravest, and the unimaginable strain arises when a mother perpetrates such a horrendous act against her own progeny. This is precisely what you have perpetrated,” he pronounced while addressing Lori Vallow Daybell. “You were implicated in, and culpable of, the conspiracy to end the life of Tammy Daybell—a woman who cherished her own children. Despite the incontrovertible evidence presented by the jury, you still stand before this court today and deny your involvement.”
On Monday, Vallow Daybell disclaimed any involvement in the demise of her offspring, referencing religious texts and beliefs.
She asserted that she had communicated with Jesus, her children, and her husband’s former wife after their passing, asserting that they were “content and incredibly engaged” in the afterlife.
“Jesus Christ is cognizant that no lives were maliciously taken in this instance,” affirmed Vallow Daybell. “Unintentional demises occur, suicides ensue, and mortal side effects of medications transpire.”
In his ruling, the judge opined, “I find it implausible that any deity from any faith would condone such an event.”
The children were last observed in September of 2019, and Tammy Daybell succumbed the subsequent month. Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell were united in matrimony in the weeks that ensued. In June of 2020, law enforcement uncovered the remains of Tylee and JJ in Daybell’s yard in Fremont County.
Chad Daybell is scheduled for a separate trial in April of 2024 on two felony counts—conspiring to obliterate, modify, or conceal evidence—alongside two counts of felony destruction, modification, or concealment of evidence. He has entered a plea of not guilty.
“Every day, the absence of my sister is deeply felt. I will perpetually mourn her… for the duration of my existence. This much I am certain of,” expressed Samantha Gwilliam, Tammy Daybell’s sister, during her victim impact statement at the Fremont County Courthouse. “As for you, I consciously elect to expunge you from my thoughts. Upon departing this courtroom today, I consciously choose to erase you from my consciousness,” declared Gwilliam, addressing Vallow Daybell.
Lori Vallow Daybell’s offspring—7-year-old Joshua Vallow and his sister, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan—vanished in September of 2019, as reported by the Rexburg Police Department.
The May 2021 indictment against the pair alleged that they “embraced and advocated religious doctrines to rationalize or instigate” the homicides of Tammy Daybell and the children. Throughout the trial, the prosecution depicted the duo as adherents of apocalyptic religious beliefs, assuming roles as spiritual figures who classified individuals as either “luminous” or “obscure,” according to East Idaho News.
Judge Boyce expressed his conviction in the state’s argument that Vallow Daybell eliminated her children to “eliminate them as obstructions and gain pecuniary benefits.” He condemned this as “the most wicked and ruinous course of action conceivable.” Furthermore, he contended that she justified these acts by delving into an eccentric religious abyss. “Evidently, you remain entrapped within that abyss,” concluded Boyce.
“What blessings did the world forfeit due to Lori’s actions?” pondered Vallow Daybell. Although she pleaded not guilty, her attorney, Jim Archibald, acknowledged her interest in religion during the trial, especially her fixation on the “end of days.” He maintained that she was a “compassionate and affectionate mother.”
“In this nation, individuals can either disregard or embrace biblical prophecies; the freedom of choice is a privilege we possess,” articulated Archibald in his initial statement, according to East Idaho News.
Vallow Daybell was also found guilty of grand theft. The indictment asserted that she obtained Social Security benefits on behalf of her children subsequent to their decease. Prosecutors contended that she concealed the disappearance of her children to perpetuate the receipt of these funds, as reported by East Idaho News.
In response to the verdict, Vallow Daybell’s legal representatives filed a petition for a new trial, as per court records. The state opposed this motion, and the court ultimately dismissed it.
The chronicle of events commenced to unravel in late November of 2019 when relatives summoned the Rexburg, Idaho police to conduct a welfare check on JJ. This was prompted by their lack of communication with him in recent times. Although the police did not locate him at the family residence, Vallow Daybell and Daybell claimed he was residing with an acquaintance in Arizona, as recounted by the authorities.
Upon returning the next day to execute a search warrant, the authorities found Vallow and Daybell absent. Several months later, they were discovered in Hawaii in January 2020, while the search for the missing children was ongoing in their homeland.
By that juncture, Tylee and JJ had succumbed, as asserted by the prosecutors. Rob Wood, the prosecutor of Madison County, affirmed on Monday that Tylee’s demise was estimated to have occurred between September 8 and 9, 2019, while JJ passed away between September 22 or 23.
Testifying in court, Kay Woodcock, JJ’s grandmother, recounted that her regular telephone conversations with her grandson had dwindled following the passing of Vallow Daybell’s former spouse, Charles Vallow, as reported by East Idaho News.
The last exchange she had with JJ was on August 10, 2019, during a brief conversation lasting less than a minute. Despite attempting to reach her grandson over the subsequent months, she never received any response from Vallow Daybell.
Throughout the trial, extensive insight was shared about JJ’s demise, and Woodcock provided her testimony on Monday. “Today, I aspire to illuminate his life,” she stated, recounting the accomplishments of her grandchild. Born prematurely by ten weeks, he triumphed over adversities in his seven years of life and achieved a reading level akin to that of a middle-school student by the age of four.
“I persistently ponder the trajectory he would have taken. What manner of man would he have evolved into? What potential did Lori snatch from the world?” questioned Woodcock.
Vallow Daybell’s former spouse was captured in body camera footage released by the Arizona police, revealing that he had already informed the authorities in January of 2019 that he was unable to establish contact with the children. Their matrimonial relationship had rapidly disintegrated, and he had noted, “She envisions herself as a resurrected being and a deity.
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