Lori Vallow Daybell will spend the rest of her life in prison.
The 50-year-old mother – convicted of killing her two children – was sentenced to life in prison by 7th District Judge Steven Boyce at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho, after several hours of statements made by both the prosecuting attorneys, defense team and the victims’ families.
“I don’t think to this day, you have any remorse for the effort and heartache you caused for others who looked for your children when you knew where they were and knew they were dead,” Boyce told Vallow Daybell during the sentencing hearing. “They were found dead, burned, mutilated, and dismembered and buried like animals.”
Dozens of people filed into the eastern Idaho courthouse Monday morning, with some spectators and reporters alike camping outside the night before. The sentencing was also livestreamed on YouTube with over 10,000 people tuning in at some points.
Vallow Daybell was convicted by a 12-person jury in May after a roughly six-week trial that garnered national attention to Boise, where the trial was moved to find an unbiased jury. Vallow Daybell was convicted of all six felony counts against her, including the first-degree murders of two of her children, 7-year-old Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan.
“Today is the day that she will finally be punished for her manipulation, cruelty and criminal acts,” JJ’s grandmother Kay Woodcock said during Monday’s sentencing. “She has shown no remorse for the murders, the lying, the deceit or the pain.”
Three years ago, authorities found the remains of JJ and Tylee Ryan buried in shallow graves on Chad Daybell’s property. Investigators on the case uncovered a trail of messages, recordings and corroborating witnesses, showing that the couple held beliefs that her children were “demons” who needed to be “cast out” – or killed, according to witness testimony.
She was also convicted of conspiring to murder her children and conspiring to murder Tammy Daybell, the wife of Chad Daybell, who is now Vallow Daybell’s husband.
“You are a liar, an adulterous and a murderer, and because of the choices you made, my family lost a beloved mother, sister, aunt, and daughter,” Samantha Gwilliam, Tammy Daybell’s sister, said during Monday’s sentencing. “She was 1,000 times the woman you will ever dream of being.”
Family ‘ripped apart,’ Tammy Daybell’s sister says
Gwilliam in her statement said her family has been “ripped apart” because their relationship with Tammy and Chad Daybell’s five children has become strained. The children didn’t attend the funeral for Tammy Daybell’s mother, who died after battling leukemia in June, Gwilliam said. She added that the Daybells’ children are afraid of losing another parent and have listened “to the lies spewed” by Chad and Lori Vallow Daybell.
“We don’t blame them for what happened, but we blame you and Chad for all the lies you’ve told them ripping apart this family,” Gwilliam said. “We didn’t do anything. My parents are not evil. They did not deserve to lose their grandchildren on top of losing their daughter. I did not deserve to lose the relationships of children I helped raise, a sister that was my dearest friend.”
Vallow Daybell’s verdict in June created a spectacle outside the Ada County Courthouse, as people who weren’t able to get inside the courthouse watched the verdict from their phones, cheering and yelling when she was found guilty. Inside the packed courtroom, key witnesses like Rexburg Police Det. Ray Hermosillo and prosecuting attorney Wood hugged victims’ family members and friends.
Kay Woodcock during her statement told the courtroom about JJ and Tylee, remembering JJ as an “incredibly smart” boy who was reading at a middle school level by the time he was 4 years old.
“I continually wonder what he would have become. What type of man would he be?” Woodcock said. “What did Lori (Vallow Daybell) deprive the world of?”
Woodcock said Tylee was an “absolute mama’s girl” and a wonderful big sister who loved JJ.
Tylee and JJ’s brother Colby Ryan also gave a statement, which was read to the courtroom by Wood, in which he wrote about the light his siblings brought into the world. Ryan described Tylee as sweet, kind, funny and bold, and JJ as the “most fun, sweet and silly kid” he’d ever known.
Ryan also wrote about Charles Vallow, his adoptive father and Vallow Daybell’s fourth husband, who was shot and killed by Vallow Daybell’s brother Alex Cox. He remembered Vallow as a “loving, kind and generous father.”
“This has affected me personally more than I could ever possibly put into words,” Ryan wrote in his statement. “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.”
Vallow Daybell was also convicted of grand theft after she continued to collect the children’s Social Security and child care benefits after their deaths.
Chad Daybell’s jury trial is expected to begin in April and could last up to nine weeks. The 54-year-old Rexburg father has been accused of espousing religious beliefs to justify or encourage the killing of JJ, Tylee and Tammy Daybell. He faces eight felonies – which include the first-degree murders of JJ, Tylee and Tammy Daybell – and if convicted could face the death penalty.
Judge Boyce took the option for capital punishment was taken off the table for Vallow Daybell after the prosecution made “multiple discovery violations” by submitting thousands of documents and pieces of evidence late, which meant the defense was getting new information too close to Vallow Daybell’s jury trial.
Vallow Daybell to be extradited to Arizona
Vallow Daybell still faces two felony charges in Arizona for allegedly attempting to kill her niece’s ex-husband and Vallow Daybell’s former husband, Charles Vallow.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office plans to extradite Vallow Daybell to Arizona now that she’s been sentenced in Idaho and after she’s transferred to the Idaho Department of Correction. Vallow Daybell is currently being held at the Madison County Jail in Rexburg.
“The extradition can take from several weeks to several months,” the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office previously said in a statement.