Lori Vallow Daybell, guilty of murdering her children, faces sentencing soon in Idaho
May 24, 2023 Updated Wed., May 24, 2023 at 7:38 p.m.
In two months, Judge Steven Boyce of Idaho’s 7th Judicial District will decide whether to sentence Lori Vallow Daybell to life in prison.
A jury earlier this month found the 49-year-old mother, who moved to Idaho in the summer of 2019, guilty of the first-degree murders of two of her children, following a six-week trial and just seven hours of deliberation. Vallow Daybell was also convicted of three counts of conspiracy to commit murder for the children and Tammy Daybell, then-wife of Vallow Daybell’s husband Chad. In addition, she was found guilty of grand theft for continuing to collect Social Security and child-care benefits after her children’s deaths.
Vallow Daybell will face sentencing at 9 a.m. on July 31 at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho, according to a hearing notice. Members of the public can also watch Vallow Daybell’s sentencing live on Judge Boyce’s YouTube channel.
Vallow Daybell no longer faces the death penalty, after Boyce removed it as an option just weeks before her trial started in Boise. Boyce said the prosecution submitted thousands of documents and pieces of evidence past a deadline set by the court, and that the death penalty should be removed to preserve Vallow Daybell’s right to a fair trial.
Three years ago, authorities found the remains of 7-year-old Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan buried in shallow graves in the backyard of Vallow Daybell’s husband, Chad Daybell. Investigators on the case uncovered messages, recordings and corroborating witnesses, showing that the couple held beliefs her children were “demons” who needed to be “cast out” – or killed, according to witness testimony.
The Daybells were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held fringe beliefs that dark spirits can possess bodies and should be cast out.
Chad Daybell – whose trial date hasn’t been set but is expected to happen next year – is also accused of murdering and conspiring to kill Tylee and JJ. He also faces an additional first-degree murder charge for the death of Tammy Daybell.
To convict Vallow Daybell of the first-degree murder counts for JJ and Tylee, the jury needed to conclude that she killed her children, or encouraged or commanded someone else to do so. Prosecutors in the indictment said the Daybells espoused religious beliefs “for the purpose of justifying” or encouraging the homicides.
“No one here is charged because of their religious beliefs,” Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood said during the trial. “They are charged for using those religious beliefs for the purpose of murder.”
After Vallow Daybell is sentenced and transferred to an Idaho Department of Correction prison, officials plan to extradite her to Arizona, where she faces two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Police said they believe Vallow Daybell along with her brother, Alex Cox, conspired to murder her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, and attempted to shoot their niece’s ex-husband, Brandon Boudreaux. Cox died in December 2019 from a blood clot.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.