CHANDLER, Arizona — This article was written by Eric Grossarth of East Idaho News.
Disturbing new details and text messages released Thursday indicate the killing of Charles Vallow was planned and reveal more about Lori Vallow Daybell’s extreme religious beliefs.
Arizona investigators say a series of crimes that surrounded the July 11, 2019, shooting death of Vallow was not a “coincidence or justifiable.” Local and federal investigations have also uncovered more information surrounding the deaths of Lori’s two children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, as well as the death of Tammy Daybell, the wife of Lori’s fifth husband, Chad Daybell.
The planning of Vallow’s death
Detectives say the first time evidence pointed at harm towards Vallow surfaced on Nov. 3, 2018. According to police, text messages between Lori and the now-widow of her brother Alex Cox were uncovered after seizing a phone when Cox died. The name of widow and friend of Lori is redacted in court documents. However, it is known Cox was married to a woman named Zulema Pastenes at the time of his death.
Police say that on Nov. 3, 2018, a person texted Lori saying “she was told by God that she is to protect” her. Then in January 2019, a person told Lori, “She had a vision that she could create storms and fire and will have the eye of the Lord.” A month later, Lori texted a person saying Charles was blocking her gifts. A redacted portion of the conversation that refers to causing harm to Vallow follows. In the conversations, Vallow is referred to as a dark spirit called “Hiplos” or “Ned.”
Investigators say Lori believed she was an exalted goddess directed to lead the 144,000 with Chad to prepare for the end of the world. Both Chad and Lori believe they had “extraordinary abilities,” including teleportation, causing harm to others, calling up natural disasters, praying away demonic spirits and having visions.
On June 3, 2019, Lori texted a person saying, “Just got home and got jj to sleep. Let’s go spiritually tonight and work on him. We give the timing to the Lord but we don’t need to relent. This is war.” Then on June 19, 2019, a person texts Lori saying, “Oh and can you meet me at the temple in the morning? I have time tomorrow and we can work on Hiplos.”
Also, in June, investigators say Lori searched the internet for Social Security disability information. Police theorize that because of a message sent to Chad, Lori determined she would receive $4,000 a month in Social Security benefits if Vallow died.
More redacted messages follow, but this time Cox joins in the conversation. In the weeks leading up to Vallow’s death, the unnamed friend, Cox and Chad all converse about Vallow, referring to him as “Hiplos.”
“There is no obvious communication found between Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell to show that he was directly involved with the planning of Charles Vallow’s murder,” police wrote in the document.
Just two days before Vallow was shot and killed, Lori discovered a planned “intervention” from Vallow and her other brother. Vallow had asked Lori to come clean about her relationship with Chad, or he would tell Tammy Daybell of their relationship.
The day Charles Vallow was killed
Around 7:35 a.m. on July 11, 2019, Vallow arrived at Lori’s home to pick up JJ. Vallow texted a person whose name has been redacted that Cox was there, and the person responded that Lori and Cox were planning something. Soon after, Vallow was shot and killed.
Investigators began their homicide investigation and interviewed “all pertinent parties.” During the investigation, police say there was concern about a bullet strike on the ground near Vallow’s body. Investigators were also concerned about the timeline of events.
“Alex Cox would not call 911 until (8:32 a.m.) to report the shooting. When reporting the incident, Alex indicated that it just happened. He was provided with CPR instructions and he acted as if he was performing life-saving measures on Charles,” police say.
Cox told police and 911 dispatchers that he had shot and killed Vallow in self-defense.
According to police, GPS data shows how Lori took Vallow’s rental vehicle and cell phone from the house at 7:49 a.m. The investigation uncovered Lori went to Burger King to buy food for JJ, and Walgreens to buy flip flops for her and Tylee. Lori finally returned home at 8:48 a.m.
When paramedics tried to save Vallow’s life after the 911 call, they saw blood coming from his body. According to police, it indicates Cox did not perform any aid on Vallow. Based on the timeline police compiled, Vallow lay dead or dying for around 43 minutes before anyone called 911. During this time, Cox called Lori.
While bullet trajectory information from the autopsy shows, one shot went into Vallow while he stood, and another was fired while he lay on the floor. During a walkthrough of the incident with police, Cox said he fired both shots while Vallow was standing.
“None of these concerns would immediately provide probable cause for the arrest of anyone present at the time of the murder, and more investigation as necessary,” investigators write in the document.
After Vallow was killed, Chad texted Lori.
“I got the inspiration to go back to my original death percentages that helped us track Charles, Ned, etc. Tammy is very close,” the message reads. “Her percentage has fallen steadily since Hiplos left. It is encouraging.”
Chad ended the text with a heart and lips emoji.
A series of crimes
As the investigation unfolded, police in Arizona say they learned of Lori and Vallow’s tumultuous relationship. While he continued to live in Texas, Lori and two of their children, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, moved to Arizona. Lori reportedly accused Vallow of infidelity, and at one point, she left JJ with Vallow and disappeared for two months.
Body camera footage and 911 calls previously received by EastIdahoNews.com show how Lori reportedly told Vallow a spirit named Ned Schneider possessed his body. While Lori went to a mental health facility in January 2019 after these bizarre claims, she was released hours later.
In the months following the shooting of Vallow, Chandler Police learned that in Gilbert, Arizona, another shooting took place. The victim, Brandon Boudreaux, was in an impending divorce from Lori’s niece Melani Powlowski and on Oct. 2, 2019, he says Cox tried to shoot him from the back of a Jeep Wrangler. Boudreaux pointed to the extreme religious beliefs of Cox and Lori and said he suspected it led to his divorce.
Police in Idaho were also contacted when JJ’s grandmother Kay Woodcock could not get ahold of the child. Investigators learned that Lori moved to Rexburg with Cox. During a November 2019 welfare check, neither JJ nor Tylee were around. Lori told investigators where the kids were, but police said those statements were lies.
Police said that “strangely,” Chad’s wife Tammy Daybell died on Oct. 19, 2019, at the couple’s Fremont County home, just weeks before Lori and Chad wed in Kauai, Hawaii.
Cox died on Dec. 12, 2019, at his Gilbert, Arizona, home. A medical examiner deemed he died of natural causes.
A massive investigation followed, with both federal and local authorities participating. Search warrants on telephone records, social media accounts, bank records, medical records, email accounts, residences and seized electronic devices gave investigations insights into the Daybells.
JJ and Tylee were found buried on Chad’s Salem property on June 9, 2020. Investigators say both kids were killed and did not die of natural causes.
“As a result of the data recovered, it was believed that none of the mentioned crimes were coincidence or justifiable,” police documents read. “Specifically to Chandler, the evidence shows that Charles’ death was a planned event and necessary to prevent Charles and others from confronting Lori about her extreme religious beliefs when he came to town. … The death of Charles Vallow was also necessary in order for Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow to marry and fulfill their religious prophecy.”
What’s next for the Daybells
Both Chad and Lori Daybell are in jail.
In Idaho, a Fremont County grand jury indicted Lori and Chad on various charges in May, including first-degree murder, for the deaths of Tammy Daybell, Tylee and JJ. Chad and Lori are also facing charges in relation to the destruction, alteration and concealment of the children’s bodies.
Then on June 24, a Maricopa County, Arizona, grand jury indicted Lori for conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Vallow. Jennifer Liewer, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, tells EastIdahoNews.com that Lori’s Idaho case will run its course before she faces the charge in Arizona.
Lori’s case in Idaho is stayed, or placed on hold, after a judge committed her to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. A mental health professional deemed her not competent to stand trial.
Chad is scheduled for a jury trial in November that is expected to last five weeks. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges filed against him.