An Idaho mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, who was found guilty of the horrifying killings of her two youngest children and her husband’s former wife, received a life sentence without the possibility of parole on Monday. The sentencing marks the end of a devastating case that gripped the community with its shocking details and disturbing twists.
More than three years after authorities discovered the bodies of her son, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and daughter Tylee Ryan, 16, in her husband’s rural eastern Idaho backyard, Vallow Daybell was handed the maximum sentence for the two first-degree murder charges, as well as the conspiracy to murder her husband’s former wife, Tammy Daybell.
The judge, Steven Boyce, insisted that she be held accountable separately for each of the three heinous murders, adding that he doesn’t think Vallow Daybell “has any remorse for the effort and heartache you caused.”
“It’s unbelievable that are your age, you have no prior criminal history and now, you sit here convicted of the most serious charges,” Boyce said according the USA TODAY. “The most unimaginable type of murder is to have a mother murdering her own children and that’s exactly what you did. Despite the jury convicting you with overwhelming evidence, you still sit here before the court today and said you didn’t do it.”
Vallow Daybell was additionally sentenced to life in prison without parole for two separate charges of conspiracy to murder her own children. These sentences will run consecutively to ensure she faces the full weight of her actions.
In her address to the court, she invoked religious beliefs, claiming that no one was murdered, and that accidents, suicides, and medication side effects occur. However, her statements failed to sway the judge or the jury.
Jurors deliberated for just seven hours before returning a guilty verdict, basing their decision on compelling evidence presented during the five-week trial, which included graphic images and heart-wrenching testimony from her son, Ryan, who accused his mother of murdering his siblings.
The case garnered global attention due to its chilling details, with one detective testifying about finding the victims’ bodies as “pieces of bone, charred flesh.” Prosecutors argued that Vallow Daybell, 50, manipulated her late brother, Alex Cox, who fatally shot her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, to help her lover-turned-fifth husband, Chad Daybell, into carrying out the crimes. The trial centered around the theme “money, power and sex,” Wood said, urging the jury to convict Vallow Daybell in the death of her kids and Tammy Daybell.
Prosecutors said the couple’s bizarre scheme was a plot to steal Social Security and insurance money.
Vallow Daybell’s defense portrayed her as a loving mother who fell under the influence of her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, who may also face the death penalty in a separate trial. Vallow Daybell’s belief in apocalyptic visions led her to refer to her children as “zombies.”
While some critics called for the death penalty, it was not an option for Vallow Daybell due to a prior ruling by Judge Boyce. The decision to impose a life sentence without parole was met with mixed reactions from the public.
Even as the sentencing concludes this harrowing case, Vallow Daybell still faces additional murder charges in Arizona for alleged involvement in murders and attempted murders in 2019, including the conspiracy to kill her niece’s husband and her fourth husband, Charles Vallow.