REXBURG, Idaho — This article was written by Eric Grossarth of East Idaho News.
Newly released audio of Lori Vallow Daybell appears to show her justifying the concept of murder using verses of religious scriptures.
The recording came from October 2018 and was shared with EastIdahoNews.com by Annie Cushing, the sister of Daybell’s third ex-husband, Joseph Ryan. The statements about murder were referring to Ryan, who died of an apparent heart attack several months before the recording.
Cushing hopes by sharing the audio, police in Phoenix, Arizona, will open an investigation into her brother’s death. Ryan’s death is just one of several oddly timed deaths related to the Daybell case.
“You think you can’t be shocked anymore by Lori Vallow Daybell, and then you get a recording like this,” Cushing said.
The 40-minute recording is of an informal religious discussion where Daybell preached about her beliefs to a number of friends. Cushing has not said where she obtained the record, but EastIdahoNews.com can verify the voices of several people at the meeting. At the time of this recording, Daybell was married to Charles Vallow.
The discussion starts with Daybell talking about how much she loves Jesus Christ and her experience with angels. She talks about Moroni visiting her as an angel. Moroni is an ancient prophet written about in the Book of Mormon. Early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accounts describe Moroni returning to earth as an angel.
Daybell also mentions her difficult divorce with Ryan and initiates the discussion about murder.
“I was going to murder him,” Daybell said in the audio. “I was going to kill him like the scriptures say. Like Nephi (another Book of Mormon prophet) killed … just to stop the pain and to stop him coming after me and to stop him coming after my children.”
Daybell told those at the meeting that Ryan raped her children. She said that during the divorce proceedings, Ryan called her a “lying crazy Mormon.” Daybell said Ryan turned the judges against her and was continuously trying to get custody of their daughter, Tylee Ryan.
“I would go through the scriptures and find all the things,” Daybell said. “If he comes against you once, if he comes against you twice, if he comes against you three times, then you can kill him. It says it in the scriptures.”
Utah State University Religion Professor Patrick Mason, who specializes in Mormon history, told EastIdahoNews.com that Daybell appears to be referring to a passage in Section 98 of the Doctrine and Covenants, another book of scripture used by Latter-day Saints. Mason said the revelation was given to church founder Joseph Smith in 1833 after early members experienced violent persecution from mobs.
“The clear message of the revelation is the Saints should not pursue violence,” Mason said. “But it goes on, and it does lay out a very specific criteria when the Saints could be ‘justified on fighting back.’ … To invoke this particular revelation to justify murder even of somebody who has perhaps abused you or treated you poorly in the past, that to me seems well beyond what the revelation actually allows.”
As the thoughts of killing Ryan ensued, Daybell shared that a wise person told her to attend a Latter-day Saint temple, a sacred place of worship for church members. Daybell had been a longtime member of the faith and went to her local leader to obtain a recommend, which permits members who are deemed spiritually worthy to enter.
“I did not have a murderous heart,” Daybell said. “I just wanted to stop the bleeding and stop the pain. … I was like, ‘I’m either going to turn my life to the temple, or I’m going to commit murder.'”
The recording has some similarities to other documents and videos that have been released about Daybell. In January 2019, Daybell’s fourth husband, Charles Vallow, contacted police in Gilbert, Arizona and told officers that his wife was having a mental breakdown. Vallow told police “she just lost touch with reality.”
Body camera footage shows Vallow explained Daybell believed another person had taken over his body and Daybell allegedly told him, “I can murder you now with my powers.”
When that video was recorded, Daybell had been married to Vallow for many years. Ryan and Daybell divorced in 2004, but a contentious custody battle continued for years.
Ryan died in April 2018. His body was not discovered for about a week. The medical examiner said Ryan died of an apparent heart attack, but Cushing believes foul play may have been involved.
Phoenix Police have not opened an investigation into Ryan’s death, according to Cushing. Although she has asked, she said the department is sticking to the cause of death by the medical examiner despite the multiple other death investigations surrounding Daybell.
“I think for them to continue to say he died of natural causes is reckless,” Cushing said.
The Phoenix Police Department did not respond to EastIdahoNews.com’s request for comment.
Just a few months after Vallow went to the police with his concerns about Daybell, Vallow died. In July 2019, Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed Vallow in Chandler, Arizona. Cox is the same person who, in 2007, used a stun gun on Ryan and threatened to kill him. Cox ended up serving time in jail after pleading guilty to aggravated assault for attacking Ryan.
Not long after, Cox also died of apparent natural causes. Both Vallow and Cox’s deaths remain under investigation.
After Vallow died, Daybell married her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, in November 2019 on a Kauai, Hawaii, beach. Thursday marks the couple’s one-year anniversary. Shortly after the wedding, it was discovered that Lori’s two minor children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, had disappeared.
Chad Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell, died on Oct. 19, 2019, just weeks before he married Lori Daybell. Tammy Daybell’s death remains under the eyes of investigators, including the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.
Last summer, the two children were found dead and buried in Chad Daybell’s backyard. Investigators believe the children died in September 2019. Cell phone data also placed Cox where investigators uncovered JJ’s and Tylee’s remains on June 9.
Police arrested Lori Daybell on Feb. 20 in Kauai for the disappearance of her children. She was then extradited to Idaho. Chad Daybell was arrested near his Salem home on June 9, shortly after the bodies were found. The couple remains held in separate jails in eastern Idaho. They are charged with multiple felonies related to the destruction, alteration and concealment of the children’s bodies.
Charges for the killing of JJ and Tylee have not yet been filed.
Although the Daybells are charged with a crime, it does not necessarily mean they committed them. In the United States justice system, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
A jury trial for the couple is expected to happen sometime in 2021.