A few months ago, I read and reviewed a true crime book about notorious Mormon child killer, Lori Vallow Daybell. The book I read, The Doomsday Mother, by John Glatt, is about a woman who professed to be a devout Latter-day Saint. She was beautiful and charismatic… and apparently, she was also more than a bit crazy. Lori Vallow Daybell was, at one point in time, just a toxic person who did things like alienate her children from their fathers. She had her son from her second marriage, Colby Ryan, daughter, 16 year old Tylee Ryan, and her adopted autistic son, J.J. Vallow, and professed to be a dedicated, loving, devoted mother to them.
But then she got involved with Utah sexton and doomsday Mormon author, Chad Daybell. That combination– Lori’s high conflict, narcissistic, paranoid personality, mixed with the doomsday visions of Chad Daybell, proved to be deadly for her children, who were brutally murdered and buried in a pet cemetery on Daybell’s property. Daybell claimed to be preparing for the “end times”, and he wrote about his views in his books, of which Lori was a devout fan. Together, they would also bring about the death of Daybell’s first wife, Tammy.
Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed Lori’s fourth husband, Charles Vallow. At the time of his death, Vallow was seeking to divorce Daybell, stating that she “had believed she had become a god-like figure responsible for ushering in the biblical end of times“. Cox claimed he shot Vallow in self-defense, and he was never charged for the crime. Cox later died of an apparent blood clot in his lung.
In February 2020, when Lori Daybell was arrested in Hawaii, and was later extradited to Idaho, she was deemed too mentally ill to stand trial. Now, she has finally been declared mentally sound enough to answer the criminal charges against her. After months of being confined in a mental health facility, Judge Steven Boyce, who had ordered Daybell to undergo treatment so that she could assist in her own defense, has declared her mentally fit enough to stand trial. She is now scheduled to be formally arraigned in court next week. She and her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, will stand trial together early next year.
The Daybells, who married in 2019, are being charged with conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder, in connection with the deaths of Lori Daybell’s children 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, as well as Chad Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. Ms. Daybell also faces charges in Arizona for conspiring to kill her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, with help from her now deceased brother, Alex Cox. Mr. Daybell has already pleaded not guilty to the charges, while Ms. Daybell hasn’t yet entered her plea. Last month, Judge Boyce denied Chad Daybell’s legal team’s request to have his case separated from Lori’s.
At this point, not much has been reported about Lori Daybell’s actual mental state or what treatment she has been undergoing. I can’t even imagine what mental healthcare providers had to do to get Lori Daybell ready to face the charges against her. I would like to know how one is deemed fit or unfit in cases like these.
I remember back on June 20, 2001 (my birthday), when Texas mom Andrea Yates was in the news for methodically killing her five children by drowning them in a bathtub, I had some sympathy for her. Yates, by most accounts, was a good person before she finally succumbed to mental health ravages caused by post-partum psychosis. She was legitimately and obviously mentally ill, and she couldn’t help the delusions that led her to kill her children. Hers was a case that certainly warranted an insanity defense. I can’t even fathom how truly awful it must have been for her to restore her sanity. Andrea Yates has even been offered the chance to leave the mental hospital, but she has declined to go.
I’m not nearly as sure about Lori Daybell. To me, she comes across as a woman with a very long history of hurting people. She probably was legitimately mentally ill when she was captured, but was she that ill in the years leading up to her violent crime spree? I really don’t know. I made a point of not following this case when it was hot news, but I am now interested in watching how it will go. I hope and expect that Lori and Chad will spend the rest of their lives in prison. I think that would be just, in this case. Their crimes were absolutely horrific, especially toward poor J.J., who was just a kid and was probably tortured before he died.
I’ve mentioned before that the reason I didn’t want to follow this case closely was because Lori reminds me a bit of Bill’s ex wife, although there are definitely some differences between the two women. Ex, at least as far as I know, hasn’t committed murder. But some of their behaviors are eerily similar. I realize that there but for the grace of God go we.
My best wishes and good thoughts go to the people who have survived the horrifying crimes allegedly committed by Lori and Chad Daybell. I can’t even fathom how absolutely horrific this must have been for them. I know they look forward to seeing justice done. Chad Daybell will face the death penalty, but the prosecution hasn’t yet indicated whether or not they will seek the death penalty for Lori. Generally speaking, I am against capital punishment, but I must admit that I won’t lose any sleep if these two get sentenced to death. That doesn’t mean I would vote for it if I was a juror, since I think the death penalty is wrong. But if either of these two happen to get that sentence, I certainly won’t be attending any protests or writing any letters.
I think Lori and Chad Daybell are very sick people… but they are sick in a way that medicine can’t cure. I hope they won’t ever see the outside of a prison again.