'Doomsday mom' Lori Vallow Daybell found guilty of killing her kids

Lori Vallow Daybell, the Idaho mother whose case has garnered widespread notoriety around the world, was found guilty Friday of killing her two youngest children and her husband's former wife.

A seven-man and five-woman Idaho jury rendered their verdict after deliberating for seven hours following a five-week trial. The verdict comes nearly three years after the bodies of Joshua "JJ Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16, were discovered by authorities in Vallow Daybell's husband's backyard near a "pet cemetery."

Prosecutors argued that Vallow Daybell wanted the victims' money, using sex and power to manipulate her brother and a lover-turned-husband into carrying out the crimes. The trial centered around a theme "Money, power, and sex,” prosecuting attorney Rob Wood said, urging the jury to convict Lori Vallow Daybell in the deaths of her children, and her fifth husband’s previous wife Tammy Daybell.

"What does justice for these victims require? It requires a conviction on each and every count," Wood added.

Vallow Daybell was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception. Wearing all black inside a Boise courtroom, Vallow Daybell held her hands and slightly looked baffled as she stood between her two defense attorneys as the verdict was being read.

Kay Woodcock, JJ Vallow's grandmother, said the family got support from as far away as Tanzania, and was praying for all guilty counts.

"I could barely breathe," Woodcock recalled after the first guilty count was read. "Ok, then I said to myself 'now maybe we can get some more.' And they just kept, coming and coming."

She said the family "absolutely" want Vallow Daybell to get a life sentence without parole. They also hope to "do right" by giving the kids and Tammy Daybell proper memorial services.

'Why Lori?' JJ's grandfather asks

Sentencing could be in August. Vallow Daybell faces life in prison.

Her husband, Chad Daybell, who is being tried separately, could face the death penalty if he's convicted.

Outside the courthouse, Larry Woodcock, JJ Vallow's grandfather, gave reporters Friday a glimpse of what he's going to ask Vallow Daybell when he gives his anticipated emotional victim impact statement at her sentencing.

"Why Lori? Why Lori? Why Lori?" said Woodcock, tearfully. "Power, sex and greed. That's all it was."

Woodcock thanked and praised the jury for making such a swift decision.

"What they went through, what they saw is mindboggling," Woodcock said. "I hope that nobody ever has to go through this, has to see and hear the details of what happened to JJ, to Tylee and to Tammy."

Woodcock also commended law enforcement saying, "We will never know the countless hours that they have put in. How much sacrifice they have gone through and most of all, what they have seen in this case, that some they may never unsee.

Asked again what would he say to Vallow Daybell, Woodcock broke out in song:

"Turn out the lights, the party's over. They say all good things must come to an end," Woodcock said. "Lori, it ended."

Lori Vallow Daybell's poor defense gave 'jury no other option,' expert believes

Vallow Daybell's defense attorney Jim Archibald argued that there was no evidence linking his client to the murders. Archibald said his client was a loving, protective mother whose life changed for the worst when she met her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, and fell for the charms and apocalyptic religious beliefs of a would-be cult leader.

Daybell told her they had been married in several previous lives and she was a "sexual goddess" who was going to help him save the world by gathering 144,000 followers so Jesus could return, Archibald said. "She so wants to be a leader but she’s not leading anyone. She’s following Chad," said Archibald, East Idaho News reported.

"She thinks Chad is following Jesus but he’s not. He’s, unfortunately, being led by the storm – not the first guy to be led by the storm," Archibald told jurors Thursday during his closing argument.

But the prosecution's evidence didn't give the Vallow Daybell's defense, who did not call a single witness to testify, a leg to stand on, said John Delatorre, a forensic and disaster psychologist who has been following the case since its inception. 

"The defense had a chance, not a very good one. It gave the jury no other option," Delatorre said Friday. "Again, she's cloaked in the veil of innocence, but the reality is the prosecution had a solid case that the defense failed to even try to poke holes in."

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Lori Vallow Daybell's son, sister, and an ex-best friend testified during the trial

Among the more than 60 witnesses who testified during the trial was Vallow Daybell's eldest son, who exclaimed in a jail call with his mother, "You murdered my siblings."

Vallow Daybell's older sister also took the stand and confirmed she asked Vallow Daybell if she put the children "in the ground like a piece of trash."

There was a local police detective who provided graphic details of finding the kids' "charred flesh and pieces of bone" in Chad Daybell's backyard. Vallow Daybell's former best friend also testified that Vallow Daybell thought her kids were "zombies."

During the final week of testimony, prosecutors highlighted disturbing text exchanges in 2019, including when Vallow Daybell apparently asks Chad Daybell in one text, "Do you think there is a perfectly orchestrated plan to take the children?"

"I feel lost,"Vallow Daybell allegedly said in the text. "Like I should be doing something to help."

Vallow Daybell's defense attorneys were steadfast that their client wasn't involved with the deaths. Her principal defense attorney Jim Archibald argued that prosecutors don't know what role Vallow Daybell may have had in the deaths.

The deaths led to worldwide attention, scrutiny, speculation, and even sensationalism. The drama even spawned a Netflix docuseries.

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Prosecutors believed Lori Vallow Daybell used 'Money, power and sex' to control

During closing arguments, Wood said Vallow Daybell was "the one who ties this all together" in the deaths of her two kids and Tammy Daybell in a quest for money, sex and power.

Wood explained Idaho state law, and told jurors that Vallow Daybell committed a “crime of agreement,” according to East Idaho News. 

"Did Lori agree to have Tylee killed and steal that money? Did she intend for those events to actually happen?" Wood said. "And did any of the conspirators perform an overt act in furtherance of that agreement?"

Wood said similar acts were repeated in the deaths of JJ and Tammy Daybell. The prosecutor said Vallow Daybell's brother, Alex Cox, participated in the deaths of her kids with Chad Daybell, claiming the men may have buried her kids in Chad Daybell's backyard in 2019.

"It was premeditated, planned,” Wood told jurors, citing text exchanges between the two men. "What ties Alex to Chad? Lori Vallow...

"Tylee, JJ and Tammy can’t tell us what happened," Wood said. "But their bodies do."

Lori Vallow Daybell's defense attorney said there was 'a lack of evidence' to find her guilty

Lori Vallow Daybell’s defense attorney Jim Archibald told jurors that his client isn’t guilty of any of the charges. Archibald, who did not call any witnesses during the trial urged the jury to pay close attention to the “burden of proof” because there is "a lack of evidence."

Archibald said Vallow Daybell got caught up in Chad Daybell's charms and religious teachings. Archibald said Daybell is the mastermind behind the killings and scheming. Vallow Daybell lied to protect Chad Daybell, "her lover, her eternal in how many worlds companion," said Archibald, East Idaho News reported.

“How can someone have that much control over you? We’ve heard how reason and common sense go out the windows sometimes when religious principles are involved,” Archibald told the jury.

Archibald said the prosecution did not prove Vallow Daybell conspired to kill her kids.

"They want you to be convinced that she’s part of this plan – that there’s a specific plan to kill. If you find her guilty, will that bring the kids back? Nope," Archibald said. "If you find her not guilty, will that bring the kids back? Nope."

Lori Vallow Daybell's possible role in Tammy Daybell's death

While much of the focus centered around the deaths of Vallow Daybell's kids, prosecutors believed she played a role in the death of Tammy Daybell, Chad Daybell's ex-wife.

During closing arguments, Wood, the prosecuting attorney, reminded the jury about the testimony of Zulema Pastenes, the wife of Alex Cox, Vallow Daybell's brother, according to Idahonews.com.

Pastenes said on the night of a failed shooting attempt of Tammy Daybell apparently committed by Cox two weeks before Tammy Daybell later died in her home in 2019, that Vallow Daybell was furious.

Wood told jurors that Vallow Daybell allegedly told Zulema, "(Cox) can't do anything right."

The prosecutor said Vallow Daybell, Chad Daybell and Cox, plotted to kill Tammy Daybell. Wood said their motives were similar to those in the deaths of Tylee and JJ  there was money to be gained from Tammy Daybell’s death to the tune of about $430,000 worth of life insurance.

"She was asphyxiated in her own home. The evidence is clear that Lori, Chad and Alex conspired to murder Tammy," Wood said. "Acting together, they caused her death."

Wood would also tell jurors that even though "Tylee, JJ and Tammy can’t tell us what happened (surrounding their deaths). Their bodies do."

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