The mother of a friend of murdered children describes a ‘zombie’ allegation before a jury

Prosecutors say Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell used religious beliefs to justify the deaths of anyone who got in the way of their romantic relationship.

(Lisa C. Cheney via AP) This court sketch, from left, shows Madison County Attorney Rob Wood, Lori Vallow Daybell, and Defense Attorney Jim Archibald during opening remarks at Vallow Daybell’s murder trial in Boise, Idaho, Monday, April 10 2023. Prosecutors have charged Vallow Daybell and her husband Chad Daybell with multiple counts of conspiracy, murder and grand larceny in connection with the deaths of Vallow Daybell’s two children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan. Both are also being charged in connection with the death of Chad Daybell’s former wife, Tammy Daybell.

Boise, Idaho • A mother accused of killing her two youngest children and a romantic rival described some people as possessed or “zombies,” four of whom were later killed or shot at, the woman’s former friend told jurors.

Melanie Gibb testified in Thursday’s Idaho trial of Lori Vallow Daybell, telling jurors that the two became friends at a church event in 2018, but that Vallow Daybell’s spiritual beliefs soon drifted away from what they did at church Jesus Christ the latter were taught. day saints.

Prosecutors say Vallow Daybell and her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, used these religious beliefs to justify the deaths of anyone who got in the way of their romantic relationship. Both are charged with murder, conspiracy and grand larceny in connection with the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, who were last seen just days before their 17th birthdays. They face the same charges in connection with the death of Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell.

Both have pleaded not guilty. Chad Daybell is expected to appear in court in a few months, but prosecutors began bringing their case against Vallow Daybell on Monday.

Gibb told jurors that Vallow Daybell claimed some people were “light” and others were “dark,” meaning they were possessed by evil spirits. Gibb said that Vallow Daybell has been called “dark,” including her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, who was shot dead by Vallow Daybell’s brother in July 2019; her two youngest children, who went missing for around eight months before their bodies were found buried in Chad Daybell’s garden in 2020; and Brandon Boudreax, who was shot by an unknown assailant shortly after his divorce from Vallow Daybell’s niece in 2019.

Gibb’s testimony was the first time the jury had heard of the death of Vallow Daybell’s fourth husband. The couple became estranged when Charles Vallow was shot dead by Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, outside his home in Phoenix, Arizona. Cox claimed the shooting was self-defense and was never charged in connection with the death. He later died of natural causes in December 2019.

However, Arizona authorities have charged Vallow Daybell with conspiring to kill Charles Vallow with Cox’s help. Idaho prosecutors also say that Cox was involved in the east Idaho deaths and conspired with Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell to kill the children and Daybell’s former wife.

Vallow Daybell has yet to enter a plea bargain in the Arizona case.

JJ had autism, and when Charles Vallow was dead, Vallow Daybell had a hard time caring for him and spending enough time with Chad Daybell, Gibb said. Vallow Daybell and the two children moved to Rexburg, Idaho — closer to the town where Chad Daybell lived with his family — after Charles Vallow’s death, and that’s when Vallow Daybell began to claim JJ was obsessed, Gibb said.

“She said he would say things like ‘I love Satan,’ and climb on top of the cabinets and the fridge,” Gibb said.

Tylee wasn’t home at the time and Gibbs said Vallow Daybell claimed to have sent the teenager to live in a college dorm with some friends. Both children were last seen alive in September 2019, the prosecutor said.

Meanwhile, Chad Daybell’s then-wife, Tammy Daybell, died in October 2019. Her death was originally reported as natural causes, but prosecutors became suspicious after Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell married just two weeks later. Prosecutors said Tammy Daybell’s body was exhumed and an autopsy showed she died of asphyxiation.

Gibb told jurors that in November 2019, Chad Daybell called her and warned her not to answer the phone if Rexburg police called because Vallow Daybell had told investigators that JJ was visiting Gibb in Arizona.

Gibb confronted Vallow Daybell about the boy’s whereabouts in a taped phone conversation a month later. Prosecutors played the recording for the jury.

“Your rescue is in trouble,” Gibb Vallow Daybell says on the call. “I believe you have been deceived by Satan. He tricked you. Tammy dies, and then your husband died, and then he’s missing. That doesn’t sound like God’s plan to me. It feels weird in my stomach.”

“You know me, Mel,” Lori Vallow replies. “That doesn’t sound like you. It sounds like you are being influenced by someone who is dark.”

Justin Scaccy

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