true crime

2 years after joining a cult, Lori Vallow murdered her kids. She claims she still 'talks to them'.

In May, Lori Vallow Daybell was convicted of murdering her children - seven-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan.

She showed no expression as the verdict was read in the courtroom, the Idaho mother being described as a "power-hungry manipulator". This week, she's been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. 

But she still claims her kids are alive, and that, "Jesus Christ knows no one was murdered".

It's a sentence that culminates a three-year investigation, filled with twists, turns and a long battle for justice.

The case itself was also unpacked in the Netflix docuseries Sins of Our Mother, where Vallow's eldest son - and only surviving child - vowed to get justice for his siblings. 

The family said the moment Vallow became "unhinged" was when she joined a Doomsday cult.

Watch the trailer for Sins of Our Mother, which follows the details behind this case. Post continues below.

Video via Netflix.

In 2006, Vallow married businessman Charles Vallow. Together they raised Vallow's daughter Tylee Ryan and eldest child Colby Ryan from a previous relationship of hers. In 2014, Vallow and her husband then adopted Joshua "JJ" Vallow.


By 2017, family and friends say something changed in Vallow when she became obsessed with a religious cult.

She also began reading books by Chad Daybell, a religious author that focused on apocalyptic and Doomsday ideologies. 

By 2019, Vallow's husband Charles feared his wife. He told police she had become "unhinged" and thought she was "a god preparing for the end of days". He also told authorities that Vallow had threatened to murder him.

Charles went on to file for divorce from his wife, saying in court documents he feared for his and the children's safety.

Shortly after, Charles went to pick up his son from his brother-in-law's house, where his now ex-wife was staying. An altercation ensued, Vallow's brother fatally shooting Charles and claiming self-defence. He was never charged. 

Soon afterwards, Vallow relocated to Idaho with her two youngest children, leaving her adult son Colby behind. 

Idaho is near where Chad Daybell resided. The pair had begun an affair.

Daybell, however, was still married. 

Then in October 2019, Daybell's wife Tammy Daybell suddenly died. Initially, it was determined Tammy had died due to a cardiac event. Just two months later, her body would be exhumed and in a second autopsy, her real cause of death would be revealed.


By this point, Vallow and Daybell were in a fully-fledged relationship. 

On the day Tammy died, search history records show Vallow researched wedding dresses. 

As for Vallow's two children, Tylee and JJ, they were nowhere to be seen. The last sighting of them was in September.

JJ's grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, called Idaho police to request a welfare check on the seven-year-old. But their worries weren't quashed.

For months following, Vallow and Daybell refused to say where the children were. Instead, they told relatives and friends that the children were "safe and happy". And when news cameras, TV stations and journalists began to swarm the couple, they would smile and say the same.

Tylee and JJ. Image: Facebook.


In December 2019, Vallow and Daybell married one another in a ceremony in Hawaii - all while Vallow's two kids were still 'missing' and public outrage was growing.

The couple appeared unconcerned about the welfare of the kids and were still collecting Social Security payments issued for the children.

It was at this point that Vallow and Daybell's Doomsday beliefs were revealed publicly.

The two deemed people either "light" or "dark" spirits and called those who had been 'taken over by evil spirits' "zombies". The only way to free someone's soul from the darkness, the couple said, was to kill them. They soon began recording a podcast together, unpacking many of their extremely fringe views.

It was this mentality that prosecutors say led to the murders of Tylee and JJ.

The pair were murdered and buried in Daybell's backyard in September 2019.

It was only in June 2020 that their remains were found by police. Vallow and Daybell weren't indicted on murder charges until May 2021. It took months of investigative work and Vallow's mental competency was questioned before the pair were confirmed to be facing multiple murder charges.


Vallow was also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of her husband, Charles Vallow. That legal case is ongoing. Vallow's brother isn't facing charges as he died of natural causes soon after. 

It was later said in court that Vallow and Daybell's reasoning for the murders of the kids was that Tylee and JJ had become "zombies".

As for Daybell's first wife Tammy, the autopsy revealed she had died by asphyxiation, therefore resulting in charges laid against Vallow and Daybell.

Colby Ryan, Vallow's eldest child, said he was heartbroken when it was confirmed his siblings were gone.

"I could have just died right there. My body was ready to faint," Colby said in the Netflix docuseries about receiving the news. "I just miss JJ and Ty, it's hard to talk about them. It's not even human to take your own two children that you're supposed to love and care for and do what they did. It breaks you."

Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell when they married in Hawaii. Image: Netflix.


Daybell was arrested and charged over the death of his late wife. He will have a separate trial.

He is scheduled to be tried April 1, 2024. Unlike Vallow, he faces the death penalty.

When it comes to Vallow, her trial is now over. For seven weeks the trial took place and the defence did not call any witnesses and Vallow chose not to testify.

The prosecution said Vallow and Daybell used their self-proclaimed religious teachings to justify their actions to others - their actions from affair to murder.

Vallow was convicted of conspiring to commit the murders of JJ, Tylee and Tammy. She was also convicted of grand theft as well as first-degree murder of the two children, a charge that indicates a more direct role in the crimes.


She will now spend the rest of her life in prison.

Vallow who did not testify in her own defence, elected to give a statement in the sentencing hearing.

She claimed to have communicated with the spirits of her murdered children, and said "Jesus Christ knows that no one was murdered in this case". 

"I've had many communications with Jesus Christ, the saviour of this world, and our heavenly parents. I've had many angelic visitors, who came and communicated to me, have even manifested to me. Because of these communications, I know for a fact that my children are happy and busy in the spirit world," she said.

JJ's grandparents - the ones who initially raised the alarm - said they were relieved to secure the guilty verdict and life sentence.

The grandfather said to reporters: "I think we had 18 jurors that all deserve our appreciation and our love. And they gave an honest, fair, and righteous verdict. JJ I love you. Paw Paw wishes you were here and in other circumstances. Tylee, Paw Paw loves you. Tammy, I never met you. Tammy, I am sorry for what happened to you."

This article was originally published in May 2023, and has since been updated with new information. 

Feature Image: AAP.