“Cult mom” Lori Vallow “groomed” and “manipulated” her new lover Chad Daybell and brother Alex Cox to murder her two children and Mr Daybell’s first wife, according to the prosecution’s dramatic closing statement.
In Ada County Court in Boise, Idaho, on Thursday, prosecutor Rob Wood laid out the state’s case against the mother-of-three, placing her firmly front and centre of a plot to kill her son JJ Vallow, 7, daughter Tylee Ryan, 16, and 49-year-old Tammy Daybell – and then steal their money.
“Lori Vallow is the one that ties this all together,” he said.
The prosecutor argued that Ms Vallow was driven by “money, power and sex” – and that she used all of those things to manipulate her alleged accomplices to do her bidding.
“They used religion as a tool to manipulate others. Lori manipulated Alex Cox through religion,” he said.
“She manipulated Chad through emotional and sexual control. They manipulated their friends.”
Mr Wood pointed to text messages showing how Ms Vallow was “grooming” her brother Cox, including one message where she praised his silence with the phrase: “Good boy.”
“Lori Vallow is telling Alex Cox what to do. You never see Alex tell her what to do. She is always telling him what to do,” he told jurors.
In the prosecution’s rebuttal, Mr Wood hammered the point home, arguing that Ms Vallow was the “one common thread” tying all the suspects and killings together.
“The evidence in this case points to one common thread and that thread is Lori Vallow,” he said.
“The defence says she’s not a killer. She is a killer. Lori is the connection to the deaths.
“What connection does Chad Daybell have to Charles Vallow? Lori. Why did we talk about Charles Vallow? The motive.”
Ms Vallow is facing life in prison on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy and grand theft over the deaths of JJ and Tylee as well as conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Tammy.
JJ and Tylee were last seen alive in September 2019 and for months Ms Vallow refused to reveal their whereabouts.
One month later, Tammy died suddenly aged 49 and Ms Vallow and Mr Daybell flew to Hawaii and married on a beach.
In June 2020, JJ and Tylee’s remains were discovered buried in Mr Daybell’s backyard.
After a grueling month-long trial, Mr Wood walked jurors through the state’s case against Ms Vallow and what they say led to the deaths of the three victims.
“Money, power, and sex. Beginning in October 2018, Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell set in motion events,” Mr Wood began, echoing the state’s opening statement.
“Along the way, they included her brother Alex Cox to participate in a conspiracy unencumbered and free of obstacles.
“This plan was driven by Lori Vallow’s desire for and use of money, power and sex. And this plan must end today in the verdicts you render in this trial.”
On the first driver of money, the prosecutor pointed to evidence showing that Ms Vallow was receiving the children’s Social Security payments directly to her accounts, and continued to receive and spend them after they had both been murdered.
“Lori learned a lesson with Charles Vallow,” he said – referring to Ms Vallow’s fourth husband who was shot dead by Cox in July 2019.
This lesson, he said, was to secure the money before the victim is killed.
Jurors were shown evidence that Ms Vallow altered Tylee and JJ’s Social Security payments so that they would go directly to her – just days before the respective child would wind up dead.
“Get the money and then commit the murder,” he said.
As well as the power Ms Vallow held over Cox, the prosecutor argued that she also used sex to hold power over Mr Daybell and get him to do what she wanted.
Mr Wood pointed to texts where the doomsday couple moved between steamy, sexual messages to messages which he said were about the deaths of their spouses and her children.
Pointing to the cult beliefs which were also allegedly a driver in the case, Mr Wood said that Ms Vallow used “religious beliefs to justify murder”.
Jurors have heard how Ms Vallow and Mr Daybell believed that they were on a religious mission to gather the 144,000 and they believed in a “rating system of light and dark” for how they ranked the spirits of the people around them.
Over time, this evolved into the belief that some people – including the children – were “zombies” and the only way to get rid of the zombies was for the human body to be destroyed.
Mr Wood said that the beliefs themselves are not a crime, but the way they used these beliefs to “justify” murdering three people are.
“It does not matter what they believed. It matters what they did,” he said.
“They can believe whatever they want. But when they use that to justify homicide, that changes.”
The prosecutor laid out evidence that the murders were “premeditated” and “planned” – from the stash of burner phones the three alleged accomplices had, Cox’s practice at a shooting range prior to a botched attempt on Tammy’s life and what he said was a deliberate plan for Ms Vallow to be in Hawaii at the time of Tammy’s murder.
Tammy “was murdered in her own home” after the three plotted to kill her, he said – and Ms Vallow then wasted no time benefitting from the $400,000 life insurance Mr Daybell got from her death.
The prosecutor reminded jurors about the harrowing details of the children’s murders and the way the three alleged accomplices disposed of their bodies after – showing the court graphic images of Tylee and JJ’s remains.
JJ died by asphyxiation with multiple layers of plastic bags wrapped around the little boy’s head and duct tape over his mouth.
Tylee’s cause of death was impossible to determine because her remains were so badly burned and mutilated.
“She was burned and buried in Chad Daybell’s backyard. What was left of her body they dumped in a green bucket and buried in a pet cemetery on top of a piece of her skull,” Mr Wood described of Tylee’s remains.
Speaking about JJ, he said that the little boy was “silenced forever by a strip of duct tape placed across his mouth”.
“A white plastic bag was placed over his head where it was secured tightly with duct tape wrapped around and around from his forehead to his neck,” he said.
“The evidence says he struggled and we’ll never know how long he fought before they wrapped tape around his wrists and ankles. He stopped breathing, his heart stopped beating and he died. It was a brutal, horrific murder of a seven-year old boy with special needs.”
Following the children’s murders, Ms Vallow continued collecting their social security payments, he said.
She never reported them missing or dead and lied to multiple people about their whereabouts as she needed to keep the “bodies hidden so she could keep getting the money”.
Ms Vallow faces life in prison on the charges.
Mr Daybell is also charged over the murders but is due to stand trial separately at a later date.
Cox, meanwhile, died before he could face charges.
On 11 December 2019, Cox died suddenly at the age of 51. His death was also ruled natural causes, with indications of a blood clot wedged in the arteries of his lungs. However the overdose drug Narcan was also found in his system.
Ms Vallow is also facing charges in Arizona of conspiring with Cox to murder her fourth husband Charles Vallow.
Source : Independent