An Idaho judge sentenced Lori Vallow Daybell on Monday to three consecutive terms of life in prison without parole for the murders of two of her children and for conspiring to murder her husband’s former wife in a case that drew national attention for what prosecutors described as her “doomsday” beliefs.
Judge Steven Boyce of the Seventh Judicial District said at the sentencing, which was streamed online from a packed Fremont County Courthouse in St. Anthony, Idaho, that Ms. Vallow Daybell “chose the most evil and destructive path possible.”
“The most unimaginable type of murder is to have a mother murdering her own children, and that’s exactly what you did,” Judge Boyce said, adding that allowing Ms. Vallow Daybell to serve her terms concurrently “would not serve the interest of justice.”
In May 2021, a grand jury indicted Ms. Vallow Daybell, 50, and her husband, Chad Daybell, 54, in connection with the deaths of two of Ms. Vallow Daybell’s children, Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua Vallow, 7, known as J.J.
Before she was sentenced, Ms. Vallow Daybell told the court that she has had “many communications with Jesus Christ” and that because of those communications she knows that her children are “happy and busy in the spirit world.”
Rob Wood, the prosecuting attorney, read a statement written by Colby Ryan, Ms. Vallow Daybell’s only surviving child, who said that “Tylee will never have the opportunity to become a mother, wife or have the career she was destined to have,” and that “JJ will never be able to grow and spread his light with this world the way he did.”
“My siblings and father deserve so much more than this,” Mr. Ryan wrote. “I want them to be remembered for who they were, and not to be just a spectacle or a headline to the world.”
The sentencing followed a jury’s guilty verdict in May in the murders and the conspiracy. Ms. Vallow Daybell had initially been declared not competent to stand trial and was required to undergo psychiatric treatment. The trial in Boise, Idaho, began on April 3 after years of delays.
At the start of the trial, prosecutors described Ms. Vallow Daybell as a negligent mother who believed that her “religious mission” took precedence over caring for her children.
Ms. Vallow Daybell, according to prosecutors, believed that her children were “zombies” possessed by evil spirits.
About 60 witnesses were called by prosecutors to testify, according to Fox 10, a Phoenix news station.
Ms. Vallow Daybell pleaded not guilty but did not testify in her own defense, and her lawyers rested their case without calling a single witness, Boise State Public Radio reported. Her lawyers told the judge that they did not believe the state had proved its case. The verdict was streamed online.
Ms. Vallow Daybell was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Tammy Daybell, Mr. Daybell’s former wife. Mr. Daybell, who also pleaded not guilty, has been charged with first-degree murder in that case. Mr. Daybell’s trial was set for April 2024.
In November 2019, Tylee Ryan and J.J. Vallow were reported missing by J.J.’s grandparents, who had become concerned when they were unable to reach him by phone.
Officers with the Rexburg Police Department in Idaho tried to conduct a welfare check and later executed search warrants at the apartment complex where Ms. Vallow Daybell and her husband lived. The authorities said the couple seemed unconcerned with the children’s whereabouts.
In February 2020, Ms. Vallow Daybell was arrested in Hawaii on a warrant issued by the authorities in Idaho, after, they said, she had not cooperated with the effort to find the missing children.
In June 2020, investigators found human remains buried on Mr. Daybell’s property in Idaho that were later identified as belonging to his wife’s missing children. He was arrested and charged with concealing evidence.
At the trial, Detective Ray Hermosillo of the Rexburg Police Department described photographs of the children’s remains. A DNA analyst testified that a hair found stuck to duct tape used to wrap J.J.’s body matched his mother’s, according to The Associated Press.
Detective Hermosillo also said at the trial that Tylee’s remains had been burned and packed into a bucket that was buried elsewhere on Mr. Daybell’s property.
Both Mr. Daybell and Ms. Vallow Daybell have been in custody since the arrests.
In October 2019, Tammy Daybell was found dead in her Idaho home. The authorities had initially said that she appeared to have died of natural causes, but her body was exhumed that December after the authorities began to question the circumstances of her death and its potential connection to the disappearances of Ms. Vallow Daybell’s children.
At the start of the trial, prosecutors revealed in court that an autopsy determined that Ms. Daybell died of asphyxiation.
The murders were the focus of a Lifetime movie, “Doomsday Mom: The Lori Vallow Story,” and a Netflix documentary series, “Sins of Our Mother.”
Michael Levenson contributed reporting.
Content Source: www.nytimes.com