ST ANTHONY, Idaho — Emotional grievances were at the forefront of an overflowing Fremont County courtroom where family, friends, the media and onlookers - as well as a jumpsuit-clad Lori Vallow - heard victim impact statements - including one from Vallow’s only surviving child, 27-year-old Colby Ryan.
Just after 9 a.m. on Monday, four people delivered victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing in the high-profile murder trial that found Lori Vallow Daybell, 50, guilty for murdering two of her children and conspiring to murder a romantic rival, among other charges.
Victim impact statements are delivered at sentencing. They are heard after a criminal conviction and judgement (in Vallow's case - a guilty verdict reached on May 12, 2023) and before the judge imposes a sentence upon the criminal. The sentencing judge is permitted to take into consideration what is heard in these statements.
Granted the sentencing judge’s approval, "immediate family members" or court-recognized representatives of an immediate family member, are permitted to address the court with statements (either written and read aloud by a representative or by the victim in-person) of how a crime has affected the victim.
“My children will never know their uncle, their aunt, or even their own grandmother,” Ryan began in his statement. “Tylee will never have the life she deserved. My girls will never have a chance to know them in this life.”
Colby Ryan, Vallow's eldest child, was approved by the sentencing judge to provide a victim impact statement because he is an immediate family member to the victims, his siblings. However, he did not appear in the courtroom on Monday and instead opted to have his statement read by a representative.
“I want them to be remembered for who they were, and not just be a spectacle to the world.”
"This has affected me personally more than I can ever possibly put into words," Ryan's statement read. "I've lost my entire family in life. I lost the opportunity to share life with the people I love the most. I've watched everything crumble and be shredded to pieces. I have lost my sister, brother, father and my mother. I've lost cousins and family, friends and everything in between."
Lori Vallow Daybell was convicted in May for conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder of two of her children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan – their remains were found on Vallow’s current husband, Chad Daybell’s, property on June 9, 2020. The remains of Tylee, 16, were found in charred, burnt pieces. JJ, 7, was found suffocated and bound in duct tape. Vallow was also found guilty of grand theft and conspiracy to murder Tammy Daybell, Chad Daybell’s wife at the time. A jury convicted Vallow in a six-week trial that ended May 12.
"These murders have changed everyone's life who loved these beautiful people, but I still know that God is above holding them in his arms and will provide a life after this to reunite. I pray for healing for everyone involved including those who took the lives of all the ones we love," Ryan's statement read in closing.
Ryan entered the limelight when he assumed a significant role in the Netflix true crime documentary, Sins of Our Mother, which delved the horrific and bizarre details of the case.
Across three episodes, Ryan expounded on his childhood and the life-altering moments when he found out that his younger siblings, Tylee Ryan and J.J. Vallow, were reported missing and later found dead.
On April 18, 2023, Ryan provided tear-jerking testimony in the case against his mother. His testimony was short, but accompanied by a shocking recorded phone call of he and his mother while she was in jail after the bodies of her children, Tylee and JJ, were found in the backyard of her husband, Chad Daybell on June 9, 2020.
Vallow tells him in the call, "One day you will know what actually happened, and we all will stand there with Jesus." She tells her son that Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow loved her, know what happened - and why.
As Colby Ryan left the witness stand, he gave one glaring look at his mother sitting at the defense table, shook his head and promptly walked out of the courtroom.
Colby Ryan, along with Kay Woodcock, the grandmother of JJ Vallow; Summer Shiflet, sister of Lori Vallow and aunt of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan; and Vicki Hoban, Tammy Daybell's aunt, were approved by Fremont County Judge Steven Boyce to deliver victim impact statements and address the court prior to Lori Vallow Daybell’s sentencing Monday. Although approved, Ryan was absent from the hearing and opted to have his statement read by a representative. Vallow's younger sister, Summer Shiflet, did not attend the hearing. A last-minute impact statement was heard from Samantha Gwilliam, sister of Tammy Daybell.
Lori Vallow Daybell was also offered an opportunity to make a statement - of which she accepted. You can read Lori Vallow's full final statement prior to her sentencing here on KTVB.com.
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