Breaking News
More () »

Lori Vallow Daybell trial: Prosecution calls first witnesses

First witness testimony is underway in the trial of the "doomsday mom."

ADA COUNTY, Idaho — The first day of presentation in the Lori Vallow / Lori Vallow Daybell trial, the "doomsday mom" accused of murdering her two children, is underway at the Ada County Courthouse.

Prosecutors are expected to call over 200 witnesses in the trial that will last from 8-10 weeks. Because the state has the burden of proof, they will be first in line to present their case.

Vallow is charged with murder, conspiracy and grand theft related to the deaths of her two children, Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and her husband's late wife, Tammy Daybell, in eastern Idaho. Her husband Chad Daybell is also charged in the murders and will be tried separately in Ada County at a date still to be determined. Prosecutors were previously seeking the death penalty against Vallow but it was later taken off the table by a judge as a way to sanction the prosecution for late discovery disclosure. 

She could face up to life in prison if found guilty by a jury of her peers, which consists of 10 men and eight women.

Live updates

Update 3:08 p.m.: Boudreaux said on Oct. 2, 2019, someone pointed a gun at him from inside a jeep and shot at his window, shattering it. When Boudreaux told police, he said he recalled that Charles Vallow bought Tylee Ryan a jeep that looked very similar to the one he witnessed the day of the shooting. Boudreaux claimed that because he had just moved into a new home, the only people that could have known his location and routine were his neighbors and his ex-wife Melani Pawlowski, Lori Vallow's niece.

The children were still missing at this point.

Prosecutors told the judge privately that this event in Arizona effectively spiraled the events in Idaho, because of the "trend of eliminating spouses."

Boudreaux was later called to identify JJ Vallow when the bodies of him and his sister were found in Chad Daybell's backyard.

"It was a very overwhelming task," he said through tears.

Court is adjourned for the day.

Update 1:59 p.m.: Prosecution now calls its second witness, Brandon Boudreaux, who was married to one of Lori Vallow's nieces -- Melani Pawlowski. He chokes up on the stand recalling how his children would also play with Vallow's children when they lived in Arizona. Boudreaux says his ex-wife became attending religious events with Vallow and then Pawlowski became focused on "the idea that the world could end soon." The couple got into an argument about buying thousands of dollars worth of food for storage, Boudreaux said. Their relationship escalated to the point where Pawlowski accused Boudreaux of being gay because "God told her" and said she believed he hacked into Vallow's computer, which seemed out of the blue, he said.

Pawlowski later told Boudreaux she didn't want him speaking to Charles Vallow, even though the two were friends at the time, he told prosecutors. The Boudreaux couple later divorced in July of 2019.

Update 1:30 p.m.: Kay Woodcock said on the stand she signed into Charles Vallow's email and Amazon account in November 2019, around the time Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell were married in Hawaii. Woodcock said she saw browsing history from Oct. 2, 2019 for wedding dresses, bathing suits and wedding rings. This "struck her" because Tammy Daybell, Chad Daybell's late wife, died Oct. 19, 2019 -- just 17 days later.

"I think it was divine intervention because of what I found when I logged on," Woodcock said.

The defense had their turn to cross-examine Kay Woodcock, which were mostly clarifying questions.

Update 12:02 p.m.: Kay Woodcock, JJ Vallow's grandmother, was called as the first witness. She states that her son had JJ Vallow and could not care for him, so Kay Woodcock and her husband Larry were in line to adopt. But, Woodcock said her brother Charles Vallow and his wife, Lori Vallow, came to them and asked to adopt JJ Vallow instead.

"She was a doting mom, she was engaged," Woodcock said about Lori Vallow. The two were good friends, she told prosecutors.

In the beginning of 2019, Charles Vallow and Lori Vallow split up, so Woodcock went down to Arizona to help. Lori Vallow had left, and neither Charles Vallow or his sister knew where she was, Woodcock said. Charles Vallow was later shot and killed by Alex Cox, Lori Vallow's brother, in what Cox claimed was self defense.

Woodcock said Lori Vallow had texted her about her husband's life insurance policy at one point, which now Woodcock was the beneficiary for.

After that, Woodcock said she was rarely able to talk to her grandson, who was now living with Lori Vallow. Woodcock said each FaceTime call was around 45 seconds, and it "seemed like someone was holding the phone for him."

The last time the Woodcock couple spoke to JJ Vallow over FaceTime, Kay Woodcock said her grandson told her, “Gotta go mama, gotta go papa." It lasted 30 seconds. Woodcock tried to talk to her grandson after this. “Myself and Larry would call, email, text, voicemail, any way we could but I never got any response from (Lori)," she said. Woodcock also tried to arrange for JJ Vallow to attend Charles Vallow's memorial in Louisiana, and Lori Vallow initially agreed. But it never happened -- Lori Vallow never answered her phone and neither were at the service.

Court breaks for lunch.

Update 10:56 a.m.: "Lori was a good, responsible mother."

Defense attorney Jim Archibald tells the jury Lori Vallow has an alibi for the deaths of her children and Tammy Daybell. When the children went missing, Vallow Daybell was in her apartment, Archibald says. He claims the children were murdered in Alex Cox's apartment, who is Vallow Daybell's brother. When Tammy Daybell was found dead, Vallow Daybell was in Hawaii, Archibald said.

"We haven't been able to agree on what happened and we need you to decide it," Archibald says to the jury. "This charge is saying they’re not sure what happened, but they want you to be sure."

Archibald tells the jury any reasonable doubt whatsoever means they must find his client innocent. He also spent several minutes on his background as a lawyer.

Update 10:15 a.m.: "Money. Power. Sex."

That's what this case is about, the state tells the jury.

Prosecutor Lindsey Blake lays out entire timeline of the couple's relationship -- Vallow met Chad Daybell at a conference in Utah, where Daybell was sharing his religious books as an author. They later began an affair.

Blake says, "It didn't matter what obstacle she had to remove to get what she wanted… If it was a person it didn't matter who.”
Blake says in Daybell's backyard, Tylee Ryan was found "charred" and what was left of her was a mass of tissue and bone. JJ Vallow's body was found duct taped in garbage bags. Tammy Daybell's body was found "cold" and her death was later determined to be asphyxiation, the state said. The jury and audience sees photos of JJ Vallow's body, as well as Tammy Daybell's autopsy photo.

Blake said that Vallow began prayer and energy work on people that were "dark" and "evil" calling it "casting."

These people were her children and Tammy Daybell, Blake says. "When the castings didn't work, the common theme was the body had to be destroyed."

Blake says there were "no known actions" when Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow went missing. “The defendant said (JJ) was dark, he was possessed.” Blake later says that Vallow told her friend JJ was with his grandmother, Kay Woodcock, when he went missing -- but, Woodcock was the one that reported his disappearance to law enforcement, she said.

The couple later married in November of 2019, while the children were still missing. Blake says that Vallow was still sending money to her other child, Colby Ryan, from Tylee Ryan's phone that she had.

Blake also says many neighbors and friends met Daybell's new wife, who never mentioned she had children.

Update 9:17 a.m.: The jury has been sworn in. They are not allowed to text, blog or talk about the trial with anyone including other jurors. They are also not allowed to watch or read the news. Vallow is wearing glasses, a black blazer with a white shirt and her hair is curled.

The prosecution consists of Lindsey Blake, of Fremont County; Rob Wood, of Madison County; and Rachel Smith of Missouri who is an attorney assisting the prosecution. The defense consists of Vallow's two attorneys, Jim Archibald and John Thomas.

Credit: KTVB

Watch more on the trial of Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell:

See all of the latest coverage in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out