Doomsday Mom Smirks Through Sentencing Hearing

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Madison County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS

Madison County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS

Idaho doomsday mom Lori Vallow smiled and smirked from her courtroom seat on Monday as she awaited sentencing for the murder of her two children and a plot to kill her husband’s ex-wife.

Flanked by her two defense lawyers and clad in an orange-and-white jail jumpsuit, Vallow slouched in her seat as family members urged Ada County Court Judge Steven Boyce to render a life sentence.

“You will live in your prison cell for the rest of your life,” said Samantha Gwilliam, the sister of Tammy Daybell, who was killed shortly before Vallow married her husband.

She called Vallow a “liar, adulteress, and [a] murderer” and said, “No angels are coming to rescue you”—an apparent reference to Vallow’s apocalyptic religious beliefs.

Vallow was convicted of all charges in May in connection with the deaths of her two children, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan. Jurors also convicted her of conspiring with hubby Chad Daybell to murder Tammy in October 2019.

Vicki Hoban, one of Tammy’s aunts, told Vallow she hopes the rest of the 49-year-old’s life is “filled in fear and you live every day terrified” for her role in the “savage murders of great people.” In a statement read by Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood, Vallow’s son also offered a heartbreaking analysis of his life since 2019.

“I’ve lost my entire family in life. I’ve watched everything crumble and be shredded to pieces. I have lost my sister, brother, father and mother. I have lost cousins and family, friends and everything in between,” Colby Ryan, who was not present in court, said in the statement.

The harsh words, however, did not seem to visibly affect Vallow. Throughout the statements, she was seen looking away, talking to her lawyers, and smiling. Defense lawyers for Vallow said Monday she may speak in her own defense.

The sentencing is the culmination of a surreal trial involving religious extremism, “demon” zombies, and marital strife.

Chad Daybell Wrote Romance Novel About Relationship With Lori Vallow, Witness Says

Throughout the six-week trial, prosecutors argued that Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, were driven to kill by their beliefs in a renegade branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a need for money to start their new life in Hawaii. To prove their case, 60 witnesses testified before the jury about a slew of evidence that showed Vallow was the “one common thread” between the three murders.

“There is literally zero evidence that [Vallow] has remorse or responsibility,” Wood said on Monday while arguing for a life sentence.

The murders, prosecutors said, came about a year after Vallow and Daybell first met in 2018 at a Utah religious conference. At the time, Daybell was a popular Mormon author, and Vallow was a devoted fan. The pair, who were both married to other people at the time, quickly fell in love and began a secret affair, which several witnesses said was centered on religious extremism.

Melanie Gibb testified that Vallow, her former friend, believed she was one of the 144,000 people who would be on Earth for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Vallow also began to preach about a light and dark scale and that those on the latter would become “zombies,” Gibb said.

Prosecutors also showcased harrowing evidence about the three murders, including how Vallow’s son was found smothered with a white plastic bag duct-taped over his head and found in Daybell’s pet cemetery in June 2020. The most damning piece of evidence against Vallow, a DNA expert testified, was a piece of her hair that was found stuck on the duct tape used to wrap JJ’s buried body.

Dr. Garth Warren, who works for the Ada County Coroner’s Office, also testified that Tylee was found in a fire pit near her brother—but that her remains were so badly dismembered and burned that he could not determine the cause of her homicide.

Prosecutors also provided details on how Tammy Daybell was murdered for the first time, revealing that she asphyxiated in her Idaho home about a month after the children were murdered. Two weeks after Tammy’s death, which was initially deemed due to natural causes, prosecutors said Daybell flew to Hawaii to marry Vallow in November 2019.

A month after that, police started to realize that JJ and Tylee were missing. Vallow and Daybell notably did not answer questions and told conflicting stories about the children’s whereabouts.

‘I Put a Face to Evil’: Lori Vallow Juror Speaks Out

Vallow was finally arrested in Hawaii in February 2020, sparking investigations into her and her family.

But the sentencing does not mark the end of the road for Vallow. She is facing a separate trial in Arizona after allegedly conspiring with her brother to murder her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, in July 2019. Her brother, Alex Cox, died of a blood clot months after the incident, which he claimed was self-defense. Lori Vallow has also been indicted in Arizona for conspiring to kill her niece’s former husband, Brandon Boudreau.

Daybell, whose trial was severed from Vallow’s prior to her trial, is set to face a jury next June. He is charged with similar crimes in connection with the three murders and faces the death penalty.

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