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Lori Vallow Daybell Murder Trial Begins—"Cult Mom" Will Face Jury

Jury selection is underway for the highly anticipated trial.

Lori Vallow Daybell and her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, are facing multiple charges including conspiracy, murder, and grand theft, all stemming from the deaths of Vallow's two children, Joshua, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16, and also in connection with the October 2019 death of Chad's late wife, Tammy Daybell. Both have pled not guilty to all charges and were set to stand trial together, but in March Chad's trial was postponed until a later date. On Monday, jury selection began for Lori's trial, one the most highly anticipated murder trials of the year. Here is everything you need to know about the "cult mom" accused of killing her own children. 

Joshua and Tylee Disappeared in September 2019

Freemont County Sheriff's Office

The last time anyone saw or spoke with Joshua or Tylee was in September 2019. Relatives reported them missing and The Rexburg Police Department formally started searching for the children in November 2019. 

Lori and Chad Said That Joshua Was in Arizona with a Family Friend


Vallow and Daybell told police that Joshua was visiting a family friend in Arizona. However, the officers didn't believe them. When officers went to conduct a welfare check on the children on November 26, 2019 they could not locate them. 

Search Warrants Were Issued and the Couple Was Wanted for Questioning

Maricopa County Attorney's Office

The following day, police obtained search warrants for all the addresses associated with Lori and Chad. However, investigators learned that the two had fled Rexburg. In December 2019 they were wanted for questioning in the disappearance of the children. 

Joshua Was Last Seen September 23, 2019

Rexburg Police Department

In January 2020, Joshua's grandparents, who last spoke to him in August 2019 via FaceTime, issued a $20,000 reward for information as to his whereabouts. Joshua, who was adopted and had special needs, was last seen Sept. 23, 2019, at Kennedy Elementary School in Rexburg.

Police Believe Tylee Died Before September 24, 2019

Rexburg Police Department

Police believe Tylee died before September 24, 2019, which would have been her 17th birthday. During their investigation police learned that the couple lied to a witness telling them that she had died a year before, while they told another she was attending college. 

Tylee's Father Died of a Heart Attack in 2018 and Was Fighting for Custody


Joseph Ryan, Vallow's third husband, was Tylee's father. He died of a heart attack in 2018. At the time he was in a custody battle with Vallow over their daughter. Vallow had accused him of sexually abusing Tylee, but his former attorney, Keith Taniguchi told NBC affiliate KSL that after an "extensive" analysis there was no evidence. Ryan expressed "real and serious concerns" over Vallow's mental health. According to documents  she was ordered to undergo a psych analysis after telling social workers that "death would be an option before giving Tylee to her father, Mr. Joseph Ryan, even for a visit." 

Vallow and Daybell Were Found in Hawaii

East Idaho News

After searching for the couple, investigators found them in Hawaii in January 2020. They were ordered to bring the children to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare by the end of the month. However, they never did, so Vallow was arrested and charged with desertion and nonsupport of dependent children.

The Couple's Cult Ties Were Revealed in March 2020


Over the next few months disturbing details were revealed about the couple. In a February 2020 interview with KSL Ryan's sister called Vallow disturbed and "unhinged." Around the same time court documents surrounding the divorce of Vallow's niece, Melani Boudreaux Pawlowski and husband at the time Brandon Boudreaux shed some light into her world. According to Brandon, Melani told him that Vallow and Daybell believed that "their children had been possessed and have become zombies," and believed they could be responsible for their deaths. "She shared concerns that she's been told Brandon needed to die and that may indicate that Tylee and JJ needed to die as well," the document says. He also said the couple was involved in a cultlike religion that, in addition to zombies, included beliefs in teleportation and "dark and light portals."

The Remains of the Children Were Found in June 2020

East Idaho News

In June 2020 human remains were found on a property owned by Daybell in Fremont County, Idaho. He was arrested on charges of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence, and desertion. A few days later the bodies were identified as Joshua and Tylee. "It is not the outcome we had hoped; to be able to find the children safe. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of JJ and Tylee," Rexburg police said. 

More Details About Their Murders Were Revealed


According to police, the children's bodies were hid on the property between September 2019 to June 2020, noting that how one of the bodies was hid was "particularly egregious." According to court documents Joshua was buried ina  pet cemetery. His sister's body was dismembered and burned in a fire pit. 

Vallow and Daybell Were Charged with Murder in May 2021

Fremont County Jail

The couple weren't indicted until almost a year later in May 2021. According to investigators the couple "did endorse and espouse religious beliefs for the purpose of encouraging and/or justifying the homicides" of Tylee and Joshua.

In June 2021, Vallow Was Charged with Conspiracy to Commit First-Degree Murder of Her Fourth Husband


In June 2021, Vallow was also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. According to his family, she was obsessed with death and the afterlife. 

He Shared Concern with Police She Was Going to Murder Him and "Hurt" the Kids


Earlier in 2019, prior to the deaths of Tylee and Joshua, Charles Vallow called police and told them that Lori "lost her mind." He told police that she was convinced she was a god and that she believed someone had taken over his body. "She's threatened me, to murder me, kill me," he said. "She lost her reality." When asked how she posed a threat to his children, he responded: "I don't know what she's going to do with them. Flee with them. Hurt them."

Her Brother Killed Him Later That Year

Fox 10

Police didn't do anything about his claims, telling him it wasn't a criminal case and that they couldn't do a mental health check. She told officers she had caught him cheating. He ended up filing for divorce, but on July 11, 2019 Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed him. Vallow and Cox claimed self-defense and were never charged. However, two years later, she was charged her with conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree. Her brother died in 2019 and was never charged. 

A Few Months Later Daybell's Wife, Tammy, Died

Chad and Tammy Daybell/Facebook

In October 2019, just a few months after the death of Vallow's fourth husband and a month after the children's disappearance, Daybell's wife Tammy was found dead of "natural causes." Vallow and Daybell tied the know just two weeks after Tammy's funeral. The body was later exhumed and both Chad and Lori have been charged with her death. 

Vallow Was Declared Mentally Unfit in June 2021

Madison County Sheriff's Office

Vallow's mental competency has been questioned over the past few years. Prior to being indicted for the murder of her kids, she underwent a mental competency evaluation. At the time she was declared unfit to stand trial on two counts of concealment in their deaths. A year after being committed for 90 days in June 2021, she was declared mentally fit to stand trial. 

There Is No "Insanity" Defense in Idaho


In April 2022, doctors maintained that Vallow was "restored to competency and fit to proceed" to trial. There is no "insanity" defense in the state of Idaho, so as long as defendants understand the charges against them are fit to stand trial. 

She Is Facing Life in Prison


While prosecutors sought the death penalty against Vallow, 7th District Judge Steven Boyce ruled against it last month. Instead, she faces life in prison. 

Jury Selection Is Underway


The jury selection for the trial is underway. Late last month 1,800 potential jurors were summoned to the courthouse. Each was asked to complete a 20-page questionnaire. Defense attorneys and prosecutors were given the questionnaires to review. On Monday they started questioning potential jurors. 

The Public Is Not Allowed in the Courtroom During Jury Selection


It could take days for them to select 12 jurors and 6 alternates from the group. During the jury selection process the public is not allowed in the courtroom. 

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