Lori Vallow Daybell’s murder trial begins Monday in Boise. Here’s what you should know
It’s been nearly three years since the remains of Tylee Ryan and Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow were discovered by police in eastern Idaho. Now, their mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, is expected to stand trial in connection with their deaths.
Over the next several weeks, new details about the case will emerge at the Ada County Courthouse, as the jury deliberates on the murder charges against Lori Vallow Daybell.
She, her husband, Chad Daybell, and her brother Alex Cox — who died in December 2019 — have been accused of killing or conspiring to kill Tylee, JJ and Tammy Daybell, Chad’s former wife. Lori Vallow Daybell is also accused of conspiring to kill her former husband, Charles Vallow, in Arizona.
Here’s what we know about the Idaho case. The trial is scheduled to begin Monday.
Why is Lori Vallow Daybell standing trial alone?
Lori Vallow Daybell, 49, is accused of several felonies in connection with the killings of her children, 16-year-old Tylee and 7-year-old JJ. Lori Vallow Daybell could face up to life in prison if convicted.
Chad Daybell was initially expected to be tried alongside his wife, but 7th District Judge Steven Boyce severed the cases in early March because of new DNA evidence, according to East Idaho News. Chad Daybell’s attorney said he would need additional time to test the new hair sample. The Daybells pleaded not guilty to their respective felony charges in April.
In December 2019, the Rexburg Police Department announced the disappearance of Lori Vallow Daybell’s children, Tylee and JJ. The kids were last seen in September 2019.
Rexburg police in a news release said officers attempted to locate JJ in November after the boy’s extended family was concerned they hadn’t heard from him since September. Police then learned that Tylee had also been missing since September.
In the news release, police also said the disappearance of Tylee and JJ was connected to the “suspicious” death of Tammy Daybell. Chad Daybell married Lori Vallow Daybell two weeks after Tammy Daybell was killed.
By Dec. 31, 2019, the Rexburg Police Department issued an updated news release that said Lori Vallow Daybell had “completely refused to assist” in the investigation, and that the children were not with either of the Daybells.
“It’s astonishing that rather than work with law enforcement to help us locate her own children, Lori Vallow (Daybell) has chosen instead to leave the state with her new husband,” the police department said.
Lori Vallow Daybell was ordered to bring JJ and Tylee to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare or to Rexburg police by Jan. 30, 2020. She missed that deadline.
Lori Vallow Daybell, who was in Hawaii, was arrested and charged with two felonies related to the desertion of a child and three misdemeanors by the Kauai Police Department. East Idaho News reported the Daybells had been in Hawaii for roughly a month and were staying in a multi-million-dollar gated community.
What charges are the Daybells facing?
The initial charges were eventually dropped, and Lori Vallow Daybell was later charged with murder.
Lori Vallow Daybell was extradited to Idaho and housed at the Madison County Jail on a $1 million bond. Chad Daybell wasn’t charged until June 2020, when police located JJ and Tylee’s bodies in his backyard in Salem, Idaho. He was charged with four felonies: two counts of conspiracy to destroy, alter or conceal evidence and two counts of destruction, altercation or concealment of evidence.
By May 24, 2021, the Daybells were indicted by a Fremont County grand jury on the following charges:
Chad Daybell, Lori Vallow Daybell and Alex Cox were charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder — of Tylee, JJ and Tammy Daybell — and two counts of conspiracy to commit grand theft by deception; Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell were charged with the first-degree murders of Tylee and JJ; and Chad Daybell was charged with the first-degree murder of Tammy Daybell.
Lori Vallow Daybell was also charged with felony grand theft for allegedly continuing to collect Social Security benefits on behalf of her children, according to the indictment. Chad Daybell was charged with two felony counts of insurance fraud after allegedly increasing Tammy Daybell’s life insurance policies.
When does the trial start?
The trial is expected to begin at 8 a.m. Monday at the Ada County Courthouse. It could take up to 10 weeks to get through the jury trial.
The trial is open to the public, though there is limited seating. Those planning to view the trial in person either in Ada County or through a live stream in Madison County will need to register online.
The Idaho Statesman will have a reporter at the Ada County Courthouse providing live, daily updates at idahostatesman.com. You can also follow criminal justice and breaking news reporter Alex Brizee on Twitter at @alex_brizee.