Lori Vallow Daybell case: 'Doomsday mom' accused of killing her kids stands trial
AUSTIN, Texas - The trial of "doomsday mom," Lori Vallow Daybell, began Monday, April 3 with jury selection in Boise, Idaho. A judge told prospective jurors the trial could last 10 weeks.
The bizarre story is documented in the Netflix series "Sins of our Mother."
She’s on trial for the murders of her two children, J.J. and Tylee. When this double murder trial is over, Lori also faces charges for her role in the death of Charles Vallow.
Charles is a former Austin businessman with an ex-wife and two sons who still live in Austin. They said it’s about time Lori faces justice.
"We met at Lavaca Street Bar," Cheryl Wheeler, Charles Vallow’s ex-wife, said.
Cheryl Wheeler remembered her first date with Charles Vallow in Downtown Austin 30 years ago.
"We dated for about six months, moved in with him, six months later, we got married," Wheeler said.
They were together for 13 years and raised two boys together. Cheryl and Charles would eventually divorce, but the couple stayed close for their children even after Charles met hair stylist Lori Ryan.
Lori and Charles dated. He even joined the LDS Church for her. The two then married in 2006.
"Very attractive, I had heard about her, she had two kids, and she’s Mormon, I mean this woman is clean as can be," Wheeler said.
She said something was off. Her sons shared stories of their new stepmom.
"I’ve known for a long time that she has issues," Wheeler said.
The trial of "doomsday mom," Lori Vallow Daybell, began Monday, April 3. She’s on trial for the murders of her two children, J.J. and Tylee.
She said they were religious issues related to extreme beliefs. At the end of January 2019, Charles told family members he was worried about Lori’s mental health and contacted police.
"She needs help. She needs some serious help. I want her to get help. I'm worried about her," Charles Vallow said to police.
Charles believed Lori had detached from reality. Weeks later, he filed for divorce. In court documents, he claimed Lori told him she’s eternally married to the Ancient Book of Mormon Prophet Moroni.
"I just thought, okay, one can have their crazy beliefs, but it was affecting our family," Wheeler said.
Charles also claimed Lori’s spiritual thread turned physical.
"I've tried to support her as much as I could, but it's gotten really, really bad lately. She's had a break, says I'm Nick Schneider. I've taken over Charles' body," Charles Vallow said to police.
"I did see him scared that she was going to kill him," Wheeler said.
Attorneys Steven Ellsworth and Taylor Larson said Charles tried to tell anyone who would listen.
"He said ‘I’m afraid I’m going to be killed, and I know who’s going to do it, and I’m telling you, Steve, so that if something happens to me, I want to make sure you let everyone know that something happens, I’m killed, that it’s my wife Lori and her brother, Alex Cox,’" Attorney Steven Ellsworth said.
Five months later, Charles’ concerns proved prophetic when he was shot and killed by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona.
"I got in a fight with my brother-in-law, and I shot him in self-defense," Alex Cox said to police on the phone.
"I think that day was a total set up," Wheeler said.
Charles’ sons in Austin found out their father died in text messages from Lori.
"It was a horrible way to find out, he was walking into my house, and I said, this must be a spell check error, no one texts someone that their father has died," Wheeler said.
Lori refused to tell the boys what happened.
"Everything was suspicious and the fact that Lori wasn’t communicating with boys, she never picked up the phone, all of it was done through texting, that there was something else going on," Wheeler said.
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Shortly after Charles’ death, Lori moved to Idaho with her kids, J.J. Vallow and Tylee Ryan to be closed to doomsday author Chad Daybell.
"They have nothing from their dad as far as mementos I think they got maybe some leather jackets with the family and possibly Laurie got to his house before the boys arrived and everything was gone," Wheeler said.
Within weeks of moving to Idaho, Tylee and J.J. vanished. The missing person’s poster for the siblings was created by one of Charles Vallow’s sons in Austin.
In a stunning twist, the case moved to Hawaii when it was discovered that Lori and Chad Daybell had been married. They tied the knot following the suspicious deaths of their spouses.
After refusing the tell police where her missing children were, Lori was arrested and extradited to Idaho.
While conducting a search warrant on Chad Daybell’s property, the bodies of J.J. and Tylee were discovered.
"She didn't protect them, and she didn't protect Charles. She could have handled this a million different ways. She could have gotten a divorce, and it would have been done," Charles’ sister Kay Woodcock said.
Lori is charged with first degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and grand theft.
"This is honestly the closest I’ve felt to justice since everything began," Woodcock said.
Wheeler and her boys will attend some of Lori’s trial.
"My oldest really wants to do a victim impact statement because they were close to, I mean, they grew up with Tylee and JJ. They just adored JJ, so, you know, and they get forgotten, but it’s okay," Wheeler said.
If found guilty of the murders of Tylee and J.J., Lori Vallow could serve up to life in prison. She also faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder in Arizona for the death of Charles Vallow.