‘Cult mom’ Lori Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell have been charged with murder, a year after the remains of her two children were found on their property.
A grand jury in Fremont County, Idaho on Tuesday returned a true bill indicting Lori and Chad on several counts, including first-degree murder, in connection with the deaths of Lori’s kids, Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow, seven, and Tylee Ryan, 16.
Chad was also charged with the murder of his first wife, Tammy Daybell.
Lori and Chad, who were allegedly leaders of a dangerous doomsday cult, were already behind bars awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to hide the kids’ remains.
It is unclear what led to prosecutors filing the latest indictment now – more than a year and a half after the murders they are accused of committing.
The charges come after Lori was declared ‘indigent’ by a district judge last Friday, meaning she cannot afford to pay for an attorney.
Scroll down to read the full indictment
Cult mom Lori Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell have been charged with murder, two years after the remains of her two children were found on their property
Lori’s kids Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow, seven, and Tylee Ryan, 16, were last seen alive in September 2019, and their remains were discovered on her Idaho property last June
Chad was also charged with the murder of his first wife, Tammy Daybell (pictured together)
JJ and Tylee were last seen alive in September 2019, soon after Lori moved from Arizona to Idaho to live with Chad.
According to the indictment, Lori switched Social Security payments from her daughter’s account to her own account in mid-August.
She allegedly continued to collect Social Security assistance checks worth $1,000 on behalf of the children for five months after their deaths.
JJ and Tylee were receiving ‘survivor’ Social Security benefits, which entitle children of a deceased parent to up to half of the parent’s full retirement benefits. JJ’s adoptive father – and Lori’s fourth husband – Charles Vallow died in July 2019 and Tylee’s father – Lori’s third husband – Joseph Ryan died in April 2018.
Lori is charged with grand theft and insurance fraud for failing to alert the government of the kids’ deaths while she continued collecting their benefits.
Lori and Chad – the prolific Doomsday author, alleged cult leader and former grave digger whom she married less than two months after her kids vanished – had repeatedly refused to say where the children were but insisted that they were safe.
Tammy purportedly died in her sleep aged 49 on October 19, 2019, at the home she shared with Chad in Salem, Idaho.
Chad refused an autopsy at the time, despite the fact that his wife of nearly three decades was said to be in excellent health.
According to the indictment, Chad increased the life insurance benefits to the maximum allowed under Tammy’s policy just a month before her death.
Investigators are seen searching the area of Chad’s yard where they found JJ and Tylee’s bodies on June 9, 2020
Lori Vallow makes a court appearance in a file photo
Authorities began searching for Lori’s children in late November 2019 after performing a welfare check ordered by concerned relatives who said they hadn’t spoken to seven-year-old JJ, who was autistic, in months
Timeline of JJ and Tylee’s disappearance
July 11, 2019: Lori Vallow’s husband, Charles Vallow, is killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona. Police initially rule that Alex acted in self defense but reopen the case months later after the children are reported missing.
August: Lori moves children JJ and Tylee to Rexburg, Idaho, where her future husband Chad Daybell lives with his wife Tammy.
September 8: The last time Tylee is seen during a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Lori, JJ and Alex. In the following weeks she tells people who ask where Tylee is that she’s studying at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus.
September 23: The last time JJ is seen at his school in Rexburg. Lori emailed the school the following day and claims she is moving the family to California for a new job.
October 2: Brandon Boudreaux, the ex-husband of Lori’s niece Melanie Pawlowski, is targeted in a drive-by shooting in Arizona. Police identify the vehicle carrying the shooter as a Jeep registered to Charles Vallow, Lori’s late husband.
October 19: Chad’s wife Tammy, 49, dies at their Idaho home. An obituary states that she passed away peacefully in her sleep. Chad declines an autopsy and her death is listed as natural causes.
October 25: A friend of Tylee receives a vague ‘miss you’ text from her phone but says that it didn’t sound like the teen.
November 5: Lori and Chad tie the knot on a beach in Kauai. Receipts indicate that Lori purchased her own wedding ring from Amazon nearly three weeks prior to Tammy’s death.
November 26: Out-of-state relatives ask Idaho police to perform a welfare check on JJ. Lori and Chad claim he is in Arizona with relatives and ask their friend, Melanie Gibb, to lie and say she took the boy there for Thanksgiving. Police soon learn that no one has seen JJ, or his older sister Tylee, since September.
November 27: Police execute a search warrant related to the children at Lori’s home and discover that she and Chad have fled Idaho.
December 11: Tammy’s body is exhumed from a Utah cemetery and her death is reclassified as suspicious.
December 12: Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, is found unresponsive in a bathroom in Arizona and dies. Months later an autopsy determines that he died of natural causes while he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system.
December 21: Rexburg police issue the first press release about JJ and Tylee, revealing they believe their disappearance could be linked to Tammy’s death and asking the public for information.
December 24: Lori and Chad issue a statement through an attorney saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing ‘allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor’.
December 30: Police accuse Lori and Chad of lying to investigators and say they believe the couple know where the kids are or what happened to them.
January 3, 2020: Police search Chad’s home in Salem and remove 43 items, including tech devices and journals. They also comb over sections of the snow-covered yard.
January 26: Lori and Chad are seen for the first time in months as police serve them with two search warrants in Kauai. Lori is also served with a court order to produce the children to authorities in Idaho in five days. The couple are approached by the media while cops serve the documents and refuse to say anything about the kids.
January 30: Lori misses the court deadline to produce the children to Idaho authorities.
February 20: Lori is arrested in Kauai and charged with two felony counts for desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, and one misdemeanor count each for resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime, and contempt of court.
March 5: Lori is extradited to Idaho, where she is held on $1million bond at Madison County Jail.
March 17: Lori professes her innocence in a statement through her attorney as two other members of her defense team quit and the judge removes himself from the case.
March 24: Court documents filed in the divorce of Lori’s niece Melani and her husband Brandon Boudreaux allege that Lori told people she believed her children were zombies before they disappeared.
April 9: Authorities reveal they are investigating Lori and Chad for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with Tammy’s death.
May 25: Idaho police issue a statement expressing hope that the kids will be found safe on what would have been JJ’s eighth birthday.
June 9: Police search Chad’s home in Salem for the second time and discover human remains in the backyard. Chad is taken into police custody and charged with destruction or concealment of evidence.
May 25, 2021: Lori and Chad are charged with first degree murder in the deaths of the children. Chad is also charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Tammy.
He also espoused ‘religious beliefs for the purpose of justifying and/or encouraging the homicide’ the indictment states, noting that Chad wrote in text messages to Lori that Tammy was ‘in limbo’ and possessed by a spirit named Viola.
Two weeks after the death of the mother-of-five Tammy, Chad married cult mom Lori, whose own husband, Charles, had died a few months earlier.
Police launched an investigation into Tammy’s death – and the death of Lori’s fourth husband Charles – after a search was mounted for Lori’s children JJ and Tylee in late 2019.
Fremont County Coroner Brenda Dye asked a judge in Utah to have Tammy’s body exhumed from its grave in Evergreen Cemetery in Springville, Utah – where Chad had once worked – after suspicions were raised.
Tammy’s body was exhumed on December 11, 2019, one day before the death of Lori’s brother Alex Cox, who is named in the new indictment as a co-conspirator in Tammy’s death.
Chad and Lori are both charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder and grand theft by deception and first degree murder.
Chad is additionally charged with first degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, grand theft and insurance fraud in Tammy’s death.
They are both are scheduled to appear in Idaho court on Wednesday morning.
Tylee vanished on September 8, 2019, just days before her 17th birthday. Investigators said her body was burned and dismembered before being buried sometime the following day.
JJ was last seen two weeks later on September 23. His body was wrapped in duct tape and plastic and buried the same day, investigators said.
Authorities believe Lori’s brother, Cox, brought the children’s bodies to Chad’s home to dispose of them.
Police began searching for the children in late November 2019 after performing a welfare check ordered by concerned relatives who said they hadn’t spoken to seven-year-old JJ, who was autistic, in months.
When officers first went to Lori’s home in Idaho on November 26, she told them that JJ was visiting relatives in Arizona – which investigators say was a lie.
Officers returned the following day and found that Lori and the man she married weeks earlier, Chad, had fled from the home.
Authorities said the couple repeatedly lied about where JJ and Tylee were and refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Lori and Chad were named persons of interest in the children’s disappearance after investigators said they believe the mother knew where her children were or what happened to them.
The case captured nationwide attention with the revelations that police were also investigating at least three mysterious deaths linked to Lori and Chad, as well as family members’ claims that the couple are members of a dangerous doomsday cult.
The first death is that of Lori’s estranged husband Charles Vallow, who was shot dead by her brother Alex Cox in Arizona on July 10, 2019.
Charles and Lori had gotten into an argument when the father came to pick up JJ at the mother’s home in Chandler.
Lori’s brother intervened and fatally shot Charles.
Police initially determined that he acted in self defense – but the case was reopened amid the multi-state search for JJ and Tylee, who had moved to Idaho, where Chad lived, with their mother weeks later.
The second mysterious death was Tammy, who was found dead at the home she shared with Chad on October 19.
An obituary stated that Tammy passed away in her sleep and her cause of death was ruled as natural after Chad reportedly declined an autopsy.
Investigators reopened the case after learning that JJ and Tylee were missing, as their mother had married Chad just two weeks after Tammy died.
On December 12, Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, was found dead in Gilbert, Arizona.
An autopsy determined that the 51-year-old’s died of natural causes but noted that he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system at the time.
Police tracked Lori and Chad down in Princeville, Hawaii, in late January 2020 and served the mother with a court order requiring her to physically produce the children to authorities in Idaho within five days.
Lori failed to meet the deadline, prompting her arrest and extradition to Idaho, where she is currently being held at Madison County Jail in lieu of $1million bond.
Chad was arrested three months later after the children’s bodies were found.
Prior to Tuesday’s indictment, Lori was facing two felony counts of conspiracy to destroy or conceal evidence, as well as three misdemeanor counts of resisting or obstructing officers, solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court.
Chad was facing two felony counts of conspiracy to destroy or conceal evidence, along with two other felony counts for destruction or concealment of evidence.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the initial charges and maintained their innocence.
The couple were previously slated to face trial together this fall. It’s unclear whether the trial will be moved in light of the new charges.
Investigators believe Lori’s brother Alex Cox was involved in the murders of JJ and Tylee. The trio are pictured at Yellowstone National Park on the day Tylee vanished in September 2019
When Lori married Chad she was still married to her fourth husband Charles Vallow (pictured together). Charles was shot dead by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, in July 2019
STATEMENT FROM TAMMY DAYBELL’S FAMILY
As the parents and siblings of our dearly beloved Tammy, we want to make a brief statement in light of today’s news.
First, we’d like to extend our continued love and heartfelt sympathy to the families of Tylee and JJ. Words cannot adequately express the depths of loss and pain that they are suffering, but we hope they know that they are not alone and we grieve and hold a place in our hearts with them at this time.
In light of new information and forward movement in the judicial process, we ask for consideration of our family’s right to privacy and continued grieving as we process this. We’d especially ask that this consideration be extended to our dearest Tammy’s children and grandchildren. We want their lives to retain as much peace, normalcy and remembrance of their mother/grandmother as possible. No one knows how to handle this perfectly. We ask that we all be given the space to continue to honor and grieve our loved one the best we can.
We’d like to thank the tireless efforts of law enforcement, the FBI, and all those who’ve continued to seek out the answers during the investigations surrounding Tylee, JJ and Tammy. We appreciate their pursuit of justice, and ultimately some measure of peace for those of us left in the wake of our loss.
Thank you to all those family, friends, and supporters near and far who have continually reached out to us. We thank those who’ve shown interest in honoring Tammy’s legacy with us through our beginning efforts with the Tammy Douglas Daybell Foundation. We pray that truth will prevail, and that all of us left behind will find a way to pick up the pieces and somehow come out of this crucible together.
Courtesy: East Idaho News
Tammy Daybell is pictured prior to her death
Over the course of the search for the kids several people who knew Lori and Chad came forward with claims that the pair were members of a ‘cult’ called Preparing a People, which was dedicated to bracing for the end of the world.
The organization aimed to distance themselves from Chad and Lori as the missing children’s case made headlines, allegedly fearing that misconceptions about Preparing a People could cause members to be excommunicated from the LDS Church.
At the core of the couple’s beliefs was the idea that they were prophets sent to earth by God to lead the ‘chosen 144,000’ into the New Millennium on July 22, 2020, according to court documents and accounts from friends and family.
Part of their preparations included eradicating the world of ‘zombies’ before Doomsday arrived, according to Lori’s former best friend Melanie Gibb, who was part of a small group with which Chad shared his personal gospel.
‘It was their commission to get rid of all the zombies before tribulations came upon us,’ Gibb told the East Idaho News last year.
Chillingly, Lori had accused three of her loved ones of turning into zombies prior to their deaths: JJ and Tylee, as well as her fourth husband Charles.
Charles had filed for divorce from Lori five months before he died, and in court documents and conversations with law enforcement he revealed that Lori had threatened to kill him because she believed his body had been possessed by evil spirits.
After Charles died, Lori moved her children to Idaho in August 2019. Gibb recounted a phone call around that time when Lori remarked that her daughter Tylee had also turned into a zombie.
Soon after Gibb visited Lori in Idaho, and the mother began ranting about how her son JJ was ‘acting like a zombie’ and crawling on the kitchen cabinets.
In her East Idaho News interview, Gibb also described how Lori and Chad met at an LDS Church conference in late 2018 and quickly developed an eerily close relationship – despite them both being married to other people at the time.
Gibb said Chad had told Lori that they knew each other previous lives and were ‘sealed’ to each other.
Chad married Lori on November 5, less than two months after her children vanished and two weeks after his previous wife Tammy died. The couple are pictured in January in Kauai, where they fled after police began asking questions about where JJ and Tylee were
Latter-day Saints believe that relationships continue after death if a husband and wife are sealed in the temple by an officiant. People cannot be sealed to a second spouse if they are already legally married to a living person.
Gibb also described an extensive chart Chad made that ranked people based on their spiritual level.
It was four pages and included Biblical apostles, the current Latter-day Saint 12 apostles, family members, friends and celebrities.
The chart detailed how many lives each person had lives, whether they were ‘dark’ or ‘light’ spirits, their previous names and other unusual information.
It stated that Lori was on her 21st life, Chad was on his 31st, and both had lived five lives on this earth. Chad was identified as a Holy Ghost.
It’s unclear how much contact Lori and Chad have had since he landed behind bars last summer.
Lawyers for each of them had argued to keep their cases separate amid speculation that they could turn on each other before trial.
Tuesday’s indictment marked a landmark development in the case that has inspired many television specials, podcasts and Facebook communities of devoted sleuths.
However questions still remain over why the couple allegedly committed murder – and why it took so long for prosecutors to bring the charges.
Read the indictment below:
The indictment, handed down on Tuesday, is pictured