The sentencing hearing for Lori Vallow Daybell began in Idaho at 9 a.m. MT (11 a.m. ET) Monday, as she faces punishment for murdering two of her children and conspiring to murder a romantic rival — crimes of which she was found guilty in May.
Vallow Daybell, 50, faces a punishment ranging up to life in prison without parole. The sentencing hearing will be livestreamed from the Fremont County Courthouse — you can watch video of the hearing below.
The lengthy trial was full of strange and shocking moments, Prosecutors say Vallow Daybell was motivated by arcane religious beliefs about “dark energy” and the “end times,” and by her desire to pursue a life with her new husband, Chad Daybell — including conspiring to kill his late wife.
Judge Steven Boyce will hand down his sentence after the court hears victim impact statements from loved ones of Tylee Ryan and Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow, Vallow Daybell’s children whose bodies were found in 2020; and Tammy Daybell, the previous wife of Chad Daybell, who also faces charges in all three deaths.
The children’s bodies were found in 2020
A jury found Vallow Daybell guilty of killing her two youngest children, Tylee Ryan and Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow. Tylee was nearly 17 when she and JJ, 7, were last seen alive in September 2019. The children’s bodies were found in June 2020, buried on property in Rexburg, Idaho, owned by Chad Daybell.
Even before the remains were found, Vallow Daybell was charged with felony desertion of a child and obstruction. Prosecutors said she didn’t report her children missing so she could keep collecting benefit payments.
Vallow Daybell was also found guilty of conspiring to murder Tammy Daybell, Chad’s then-wife, who was found dead in her home in October 2019 — less than one month before he and Vallow got married in Hawaii. He is Vallow Daybell’s fifth husband.
‘Zombie’ beliefs arose during trial
In court documents, Vallow Daybell’s close friend Melanie Gibb described hearing her say that Tylee had become a zombie — a concept Vallow Daybell had picked up from Daybell.
Gibb said she heard Vallow Daybell call Tylee a zombie after Tylee had refused to babysit JJ — to which Tylee replied, “Not me, mom,” according to a police affidavit. Gibb said Vallow Daybell later concluded that JJ had also become a zombie.
Prosecutors also said Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell portrayed themselves as religious figures called “James and Elaina.” And they purported to be able to “rate” people, detecting whether they might be under the thrall of an evil spirit’s dark energy.
The case depicted a love affair that turned deadly
Prosecutors say Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell’s relationship was entwined in a deadly criminal conspiracy they sought to justify with fantastical beliefs. Rather than simply starting a new life together after they met in October 2018, the prosecution said, the couple plotted to kill their closest relatives and benefit from their deaths through insurance payouts and Social Security benefits.
Vallow Daybell’s defense attorney, James Archibald, has said his client was in the thrall of a man she sees as a messiah and her eternal soulmate. He has also argued that the prosecution has produced little direct evidence to tie Vallow Daybell to her children’s deaths.