ST. ANTHONY, Idaho (AP) — Idaho mother Lori Vallow Daybell faces up to life in prison without parole Monday as she is sentenced in the murders of her two youngest children and a romantic rival in a case that included bizarre claims that her son and daughter were zombies and that she was a goddess sent to usher in the Biblical apocalypse.
Vallow Daybell was found guilty in May of killing her two youngest children, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, as well as conspiring to kill Tammy Daybell, her fifth husband’s previous wife.
The husband, Chad Daybell, is awaiting trial on the same murder charges. Vallow Daybell also faces two other cases in Arizona — one on a charge of conspiring with her brother to kill her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, and one of conspiring to kill her niece’s ex-husband. Charles Vallow was shot and killed in 2019, but her niece’s ex survived an attempt later that year.
Monday’s sentencing will take place at the Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho. Judge Steven W. Boyce is expected to hear testimony from several representatives of the victims, including Vallow Daybell’s only surviving son, Colby Ryan.
The case began in July 2019, when Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed her estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in a suburban Phoenix home. Cox told police he acted in self defense. He was never charged in the case and died later that year of what authorities determined were natural causes.
Vallow Daybell was already in a relationship with Chad Daybell, a self-published author who wrote doomsday-focused fiction loosely based on Mormon teachings. She moved to Idaho with her kids and brother to be closer to him.
The children were last seen alive in September 2019. Police discovered they were missing a month later after an extended family member became worried. Their bodies were found buried in Chad Daybell’s yard the following summer.
Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow married in November 2019, about two weeks after Daybell’s previous wife, Tammy, was killed. Tammy Daybell initially was described as having died of natural causes, but an autopsy later showed she had been asphyxiated, authorities said.
Defense attorney Jim Archibald argued during the trial that there was no evidence tying Vallow Daybell to the killings, but plenty showing she was a loving, protective mother whose life took a sharp turn when she met Chad Daybell and fell for his “weird” apocalyptic religious claims. He suggested that Daybell and Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, were responsible for the deaths.
Daybell told her they had been married in several previous lives and she was a “sexual goddess” who was supposed to help him save the world by gathering 144,000 followers so Jesus could return, Archibald said.
Vallow Daybell’s former friend Melanie Gibb testified during the trial that Vallow Daybell believed people in her life had been taken over by evil spirits and turned into “zombies,” including JJ and Tylee.