BOISE, Idaho — It's taken three years to get to this point, the start of the trial for Lori Vallow Daybell. She's the Rexburg mom accused of murder and conspiracy to commit the murders of two of her children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan. She's also charged with conspiracy in the death of Tammy Daybell, the former wife of her current husband, Chad Daybell.
Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell are both are facing charges for the three deaths, but they'll be put on trial separately. It's Lori who will face a judge and jury starting Monday.
The case spanned from Idaho, to Arizona, to Hawaii, after JJ and Tylee vanished in September of 2019. Their mother, Lori, never reported them missing. Four months later, she and Chad were tracked down in Hawaii in January of 2020, but the mystery and intrigue surrounding the kids' disappearance started long before the couple were found in Hawaii.
Lori Vallow married Chad Daybell in Hawaii on Nov. 5, 2019. Chad is Lori's fifth husband. Before that, she was married to Charles Vallow, and they lived in Arizona. In January of 2019, body camera video from Arizona Police shows Charles pleading to officers for Lori to get help, and claiming she was trying to kill him.
Five months later, on July 11, Lori's brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed Charles, in what Alex claimed was self-defense. The very next month, Lori, Tylee. JJ, Alex and Lori's niece, Melanie, moved to Rexburg.
At the time, Chad was married to Tammy, and they also lived in Rexburg. By this point, Chad and Lori were believed to have had some type of relationship. Court documents show, they met in 2018 at a religious conference in Utah. Tylee was last seen on Sept. 8, 2019, at Yellowstone with Alex Cox.
On Oct. 19, 2019, Tammy Daybell died in her sleep. Court records show that 10 days before her death, Tammy called 911 and reported that a masked man had shot at her in her driveway. Court documents later indicate Cox tried to shoot and kill Tammy. Initially, a coroner ruled Tammy died of natural causes, but investigators later reopened the case and exhumed her body on Dec. 11, 2019.
One day later, December 12, Alex died suddenly of natural causes.
In February of 2021, the Fremont County Sheriff's office announced they received the autopsy report on Tammy Daybell's body, but were not releasing it to the public just yet. That report has still not been released, but Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell are charged with conspiring to kill Tammy.
On Nov. 26, 2019, one month after Tammy's death, Kay and Larry Woodcock, JJ’s grandparents, ordered a welfare check for JJ. Police said Lori told them JJ was with her friend, Melanie Gibb, in Arizona. Gibb told East Idaho News that Chad called her that day and told her that when police called, she shouldn't pick up the phone. Rexburg Police returned to Lori’s home the next day. This time with a search warrant, but Lori was gone.
In January of 2020, newlyweds Chad and Lori Daybell are found in Hawaii. Police in Hawaii served a court order saying Lori had five days to physically produce the kids. The couple ignored that deadline.
Police arrested Lori in Hawaii on Feb. 20, 2020, on charges of child desertion, obstructing an officer, contempt of court and solicitation to commit a crime. Both her kids are still missing.
On March 5, Lori was extradited from Hawaii to Idaho. She made her first court appearance in Idaho on March 6. Her son, Colby Ryan was there, along with Kay and Larry Woodcock.
Fast forward to June 2020, nine months after JJ and Tylee disappeared, investigators searched Chad Daybell's Idaho property and found human remains. Police arrest him. Rexburg police later confirmed the remains belonged to JJ and Tylee.
In May of 2021, a Fremont County grand jury indicted the couple on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of JJ and Tylee. Chad is also charged with first-degree murder of his late wife, Tammy Daybell.
On June 8, 2021, Lori was deemed not fit to stand trial, and ordered to undergo treatment.
Lori Vallow Daybell's case in Idaho was paused for nearly a year. During that time, on June 24, 2021, a grand jury in Arizona returned an indictment accusing her of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. A trial on the Arizona charges won't happen until the conclusion of the trial in Ada County.
In October 2021, while Lori Vallow Daybell's case was still on hold, Judge Steven Boyce granted a motion for a change of venue that had been filed by the attorney for Chad Daybell in part because of what the judge called prejudicial and sometimes inflammatory publicity in eastern Idaho. In his written decision and memorandum, Judge Boyce suggested that the trial take place in Ada County because of the large pool of prospective jurors and courthouse facilities better suited for a high-profile, multiweek trial.
In April 2022, Lori is found competent for trial. She was then formally arraigned on murder charges and pled not guilty. One month later, prosecutors said they would pursue the death penalty against Lori. In October of 2022, Judge Boyce issued a ruling to suspend the trial until Lori’s competency could be determined. One month later, the judge ruled she was competent to stand trial once again.
In March 2023, Judge Boyce ruled Lori and Chad’s cases would be severed, meaning they will now be tried separately, which brings us to today, and Lori's trial in Ada County. It will start with jury selection, expected to take several days, followed by opening arguments, then witness testimony.
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