04/03/2024 2:50 PM

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Lori Vallow is ruled unfit to stand trial for ‘murdering her children’

‘Cult mom’ Lori Vallow was deemed unfit to stand trial in Idaho for the murder of her two children moments before police in Arizona announced a conspiracy to commit first-degree murder charge against her in the death of her fourth husband Charles Vallow.

A document filed with the Fremont County, Idaho court on Thursday said an order for a competency evaluation was made under seal to determine Lori’s fitness to proceed with the trial after it was called into question by counsel.

A psychologist performed an assessment and found that ‘at this time the defendant is not competent to proceed, and recommends restorative treatment’. 

The psychologist did not explain his decision, but friends and family have alleged that Lori is a member of a dangerous Doomsday cult with extreme religious beliefs – including that she is a prophet sent to Earth to eradicate ‘zombies’ before leading the ‘chosen 144,000’ into the New Millennium. 

In the weeks before her children Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow, seven, and Tylee Ryan, 16, were killed in September 2019, Lori allegedly told friends that she believed both had turned into zombies. 

Prosecutors have contested the findings of the psychologist’s report but the case was stayed until a hearing to address their opposition.  

Moments after the Idaho filing was made public, the Chandler Police Department in Arizona announced they submitted the conspiracy charge over the July 2019 death of Charles – Lori’s fourth husband – to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office on April 1.

Charles was shot and killed by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, who said the shooting was in self-defense. Cox then died of unknown causes several months later. 

Ironically, Charles was filmed telling police that Lori was ‘out of her mind’ just months before he was killed after he claimed that she’d threatened to murder him because he was ‘possessed’ by an evil spirit.

Charles’ case is being investigated separately from the Idaho investigation into the murders of JJ and Tylee – with which Lori and her fifth husband Chad Daybell were charged earlier this week. Chad is also facing charges for the murder of his first wife Tammy, who died weeks before he and Lori tied the knot in November 2019. 

Chandler Police confirmed the conspiracy charge to DailyMail.com, and said the county attorney will decide whether to formalize it. They would not provide any further details on the case.

It remains unclear how the Idaho court’s decision will affect the Arizona case as it moves forward. DailyMail.com has also reached out to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for further information.   

Lori Vallow is not fit to stand trial for the murder of her two children following a psychological assessment

Lori Vallow is not fit to stand trial for the murder of her two children following a psychological assessment 

A document filed with the court on Thursday said an order for a competency evaluation was made under seal to determine her fitness to proceed with the trial

A document filed with the court on Thursday said an order for a competency evaluation was made under seal to determine her fitness to proceed with the trial

Lori is pictured with her fourth husband Charles Vallow. Charles was shot dead by Lori's brother, Alex Cox, in July 2019

Lori is pictured with her fourth husband Charles Vallow. Charles was shot dead by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, in July 2019

Vallow's children JJ, seven, and Tylee, 16, were last seen alive in September 2019, soon after Lori moved from Arizona to Idaho to live with Chad. Their remains were found in June last year

Vallow’s children JJ, seven, and Tylee, 16, were last seen alive in September 2019, soon after Lori moved from Arizona to Idaho to live with Chad. Their remains were found in June last year 

Lori and Chad were each indicted by a grand jury Monday on charges of conspiracy, murder and grand theft in connection with the deaths of JJ and Tylee.  

Chad is also charged with one count of murder and insurance fraud in connection with the death of his late wife Tammy Daybell. 

If convicted, they face life in prison or the death penalty. Chad appeared to laugh and smirk during Wednesday’s hearing as the charges against him were read out. 

He will be back in court for his arraignment June 9, the judge told him.

Lori – wearing a face mask – later appeared for her court hearing, also via Zoom. Her hearing was adjourned and she did not hear her charges in court. That came after Special Prosecutor Rob Wood objected to it continuing; it is not clear why.  

Lori’s children JJ and Tylee were last seen alive in September 2019, soon after Lori moved from Arizona to Idaho to live with Chad. Their remains were found in June last year. 

Chad Daybell, left, laughed as he appeared in court ahead of his wife Lori Vallow Wednesday after they were both charged with the murder of her two children

Chad Daybell, left, laughed as he appeared in court ahead of his wife Lori Vallow Wednesday after they were both charged with the murder of her two children

Chad was also charged with the murder of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, pictured. She purportedly died in her sleep aged 49 on October 19, 2019; Chad refused an autopsy at the time, despite the fact that his wife was in excellent health

Chad was also charged with the murder of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, pictured. She purportedly died in her sleep aged 49 on October 19, 2019; Chad refused an autopsy at the time, despite the fact that his wife was in excellent health

According to the indictment, Lori continued collecting her children’s Social Security benefits for months after they were killed. 

Chad also increased his first wife’s life insurance benefits to the maximum allowed under the policy weeks before her death and ended up receiving a $430,000 payout, their murder indictment claims.      

According to the indictment, Lori switched Social Security payments from her daughter’s account to her own account in mid-August 2019.  

She then allegedly continued to wrongly collect Social Security assistance checks worth $1,000 for five months on behalf of Tylee and four months on behalf of JJ. 

Both kids were receiving ‘survivor’ Social Security benefits, which entitle children of a deceased parent to up to half of the parent’s full retirement benefits.  

Charles was JJ’s adoptive father, and Tylee’s father – Lori’s third husband – Joseph Ryan died in April 2018. 

A grand jury in Fremont County, Idaho on Tuesday returned a true bill indicting Lori and Chad. The alleged leaders of a dangerous doomsday cult were already behind bars awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to hide the kids’ remains. 

It is unclear what led to prosecutors filing the latest indictment now – more than a year and a half after the murders they are accused of committing. 

The charges come after Lori was declared ‘indigent’ by a district judge last Friday, meaning she cannot afford to pay for an attorney.   

This week’s indictment is not the first time one of the couple has been accused of tampering with their former spouse’s life insurance. 

In April last year Lori was accused in emails of trying to lock her late husband – and JJ’s adoptive father – Charles out of his $1million life insurance policy before his death. 

Charles Vallow, 63, the estranged fourth husband of Idaho 'cult mom' Lori Vallow, removed her as the beneficiary from his $1million life insurance policy just a few months before he was shot and killed by Lori's brother, Alex Cox

Charles Vallow, 63, the estranged fourth husband of Idaho ‘cult mom’ Lori Vallow, removed her as the beneficiary from his $1million life insurance policy just a few months before he was shot and killed by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox

He wrote an email to his life insurance provider accusing Lori of hacking into his account and changing his password, according to KSAZ-TV

At the time, Charles sought to remove his then-wife as a beneficiary of the $1million policy, emails show. 

Charles was then shot and killed by Cox, who later died himself. 

The indictment also alleges the Daybells and Cox had conspired to kill Tammy Daybell before her death, and that Cox even practiced shooting, going to a gun range and searching the internet for information about bullet velocity and shooting through vehicles.     

Lori also bought her own wedding ring – a $35.99 sterling silver band from Amazon – 17 days before Tammy’s death. 

Lori and Chad tied the knot in Hawaii on November 5, two months after her children, Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, were last seen in Idaho in September, and less than two weeks after Tammy’s death on October 19.  

Lori and Chad had repeatedly refused to say where the children were but insisted that they were safe.

Charles Vallow accused his then-estranged wife Lori Vallow of hacking into his life insurance policy in February 2019 - right around the time he filed for divorce

Charles Vallow accused his then-estranged wife Lori Vallow of hacking into his life insurance policy in February 2019 – right around the time he filed for divorce

Lori Vallow

Chad Daybell

Cult mom Lori Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell have been charged with murder, two years after the remains of her two children were found on their property

Lori's kids Joshua 'JJ' Vallow, seven, and Tylee Ryan, 16, were last seen alive in September 2019, and their remains were discovered on her Idaho property last June

Lori’s kids Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow, seven, and Tylee Ryan, 16, were last seen alive in September 2019, and their remains were discovered on her Idaho property last June

Investigators are seen searching the area of Chad's yard where they found JJ and Tylee's bodies on June 9, 2020

Investigators are seen searching the area of Chad’s yard where they found JJ and Tylee’s bodies on June 9, 2020

Police also launched an investigation into Tammy’s and Charles’ death.

Fremont County Coroner Brenda Dye asked a judge in Utah to have Tammy’s body exhumed from its grave in Evergreen Cemetery in Springville, Utah – where Chad had once worked – after suspicions were raised.

Tammy’s body was exhumed on December 11, 2019, one day before the death of Lori’s brother Alex Cox, who is named in the new indictment as a co-conspirator in Tammy’s death.

Chad and Lori are both charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder and grand theft by deception and first degree murder.

Chad is additionally charged with first degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, grand theft and insurance fraud in Tammy’s death.

Tylee vanished on September 8, 2019, just days before her 17th birthday. Investigators said her body was burned and dismembered before being buried sometime the following day.

JJ was last seen two weeks later on September 23. His body was wrapped in duct tape and plastic and buried the same day, investigators said.

Authorities believe Lori’s brother, Cox, brought the children’s bodies to Chad’s home to dispose of them.

Police began searching for the children in late November 2019 after performing a welfare check ordered by concerned relatives who said they hadn’t spoken to seven-year-old JJ, who was autistic, in months.

When officers first went to Lori’s home in Idaho on November 26, she told them that JJ was visiting relatives in Arizona – which investigators say was a lie.

Officers returned the following day and found that Lori and the man she married weeks earlier, Chad, had fled from the home.

Authorities said the couple repeatedly lied about where JJ and Tylee were and refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Lori and Chad were named persons of interest in the children’s disappearance after investigators said they believe the mother knew where her children were or what happened to them.

Lori Vallow continued collecting her children's Social Security benefits for five months after they were killed, according to charging documents released Tuesday

Lori Vallow, center, continued collecting her children’s Social Security benefits for five months after they were killed, according to charging documents released Tuesday

Investigators believe Lori's brother Alex Cox was involved in the murders of JJ and Tylee. The trio are pictured at Yellowstone National Park on the day Tylee vanished in September 2019

Investigators believe Lori’s brother Alex Cox was involved in the murders of JJ and Tylee. The trio are pictured at Yellowstone National Park on the day Tylee vanished in September 2019

The case captured nationwide attention with the revelations that police were also investigating at least three mysterious deaths linked to Lori and Chad, as well as family members’ claims that the couple are members of a dangerous doomsday cult.

The first death is that of Lori’s estranged husband Charles, who was shot dead by her brother Alex in Arizona on July 10, 2019. 

The couple had been estranged for months, as Charles grew increasingly concerned about her mental health. 

In January of that year, he told police he returned to the home they shared and discovered that he was locked out and all of his belongings were gone.

He had been trying to find Lori to serve her with a petition to have her involuntarily committed at Community Bridges.

He explained to police in body camera footage that was released last year that he was afraid of her religious beliefs and feared for his children’s lives and his own.

‘I want her to get help,’ he says in the footage. ‘She’s my wife, I lover her to death but something’s going on

‘She needs help,’ he continues, ‘She needs some serious help. I want her to get help. I’m worried about her. I don’t think we’ll survive this, but she needs help.’

The police at the time did not do anything, as Lori and the children were no longer in the house. He then went back to police later that day, telling them that Lori believes she is a prophet and that somebody else is possessing his body.

‘[She says] she knows then the second coming [of Jesus Christ] is happening,’ he says in video released last year.

‘I’ve tried to support her as much as I could, but it’s gotten really really bad lately. She’s had a break.’

Bodycam footage shows Charles Vallow telling police in 2019 that his then-estranged wife Lori needed mental help and that her religious beliefs and turned radical

Bodycam footage shows Charles Vallow telling police in 2019 that his then-estranged wife Lori needed mental help and that her religious beliefs and turned radical

TIMELINE OF THE DISAPPEARANCES OF JJ and TYLEE

July 11, 2019: Lori Vallow’s husband, Charles Vallow, is killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona. 

August: Lori moves children JJ and Tylee to Rexburg, Idaho, where Chad Daybell lives with his wife Tammy.

September 8: The last time Tylee is seen during a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Lori, JJ and Alex. 

September 23: The last time JJ is seen at his school in Rexburg.  

October 19: Chad’s wife Tammy, 49, dies at their Idaho home. 

October 25: A friend of Tylee receives a vague ‘miss you’ text from her phone but says that it didn’t sound like the teen.   

November 5: Lori and Chad tie the knot on a beach in Kauai.  

November 26: Out-of-state relatives ask Idaho police to perform a welfare check on JJ and learn both he and Tylee have not been seen for months.  

November 27: Police execute a search warrant related to the children at Lori’s home and discover that she and Chad have fled Idaho.

December 11: Tammy’s body is exhumed from a Utah cemetery and her death is reclassified as suspicious.

December 12: Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, is found unresponsive in Arizona and dies.  

December 21: Rexburg police issue the first press release about JJ and Tylee, revealing they believe their disappearance could be linked to Tammy’s death.

December 24: Lori and Chad issue a statement through an attorney saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing ‘allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor’.

December 30: Police accuse Lori and Chad of lying to investigators and say they believe the couple know where the kids are or what happened to them.

January 3, 2020: Police search Chad’s home in Salem and remove 43 items. They also comb over sections of the snow-covered yard with rakes and metal detectors.

January 26: Lori and Chad are seen for the first time in months as police serve them with a court order to produce the children to authorities in Idaho in five days. 

January 30: Lori misses the court deadline to produce the children to Idaho authorities.

February 20: Lori is arrested in Kauai. 

March 5: Lori is extradited to Idaho, where she is held on $1million bond at Madison County Jail. 

April 9: Authorities reveal they are investigating Lori and Chad for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with Tammy’s death. 

June 9: Police search Chad’s home in Salem for the second time and discover human remains in the backyard. Chad is taken into police custody and charged with destruction or concealment of evidence.

June 13: Police confirm that the remains belonged to JJ and Tylee. 

Police records show that, later that day, Lori spoke to officers and claimed she wanted Charles out of their home over allegations he was cheating.

Six months later, in July 2019, Charles was fatally shot in Phoenix by Lori’s brother, Alexander Cox.

Charles and Lori had gotten into an argument when the father came to pick up JJ at the mother’s home in Chandler.

Lori’s brother intervened and fatally shot Charles.

Police initially determined that he acted in self defense – but the case was reopened amid the multi-state search for JJ and Tylee, who had moved to Idaho, where Chad lived, with their mother weeks later.

The second mysterious death was Tammy.

Investigators reopened the case after learning that JJ and Tylee were missing, as their mother had married Chad just two weeks after Tammy died.

On December 12, Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, was found dead in Gilbert, Arizona.

An autopsy determined that the 51-year-old’s died of natural causes but noted that he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system at the time.

Police tracked Lori and Chad down in Princeville, Hawaii, in late January 2020 and served the mother with a court order requiring her to physically produce the children to authorities in Idaho within five days.

Lori failed to meet the deadline, prompting her arrest and extradition to Idaho, where she is currently being held at Madison County Jail in lieu of $1million bond.

Chad was arrested three months later after the children’s bodies were found.

Prior to Tuesday’s indictment, Lori was facing two felony counts of conspiracy to destroy or conceal evidence, as well as three misdemeanor counts of resisting or obstructing officers, solicitation to commit a crime and contempt of court.

Chad was facing two felony counts of conspiracy to destroy or conceal evidence, along with two other felony counts for destruction or concealment of evidence.

Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the initial charges and maintained their innocence.

The couple were previously slated to face trial together this fall.

It’s unclear whether the trial will be moved in light of the new charges.

Over the course of the search for the kids several people who knew Lori and Chad came forward with claims that the pair were members of a ‘cult’ called Preparing a People, which was dedicated to bracing for the end of the world.

The organization aimed to distance themselves from Chad and Lori as the missing children’s case made headlines, allegedly fearing that misconceptions about Preparing a People could cause members to be excommunicated from the LDS Church.

At the core of the couple’s beliefs was the idea that they were prophets sent to earth by God to lead the ‘chosen 144,000’ into the New Millennium on July 22, 2020, according to court documents and accounts from friends and family.

Part of their preparations included eradicating the world of ‘zombies’ before Doomsday arrived, according to Lori’s former best friend Melanie Gibb, who was part of a small group with which Chad shared his personal gospel.

‘It was their commission to get rid of all the zombies before tribulations came upon us,’ Gibb told the East Idaho News last year.

Chillingly, Lori had accused three of her loved ones of turning into zombies prior to their deaths: JJ and Tylee, as well as her fourth husband Charles.

Charles had filed for divorce from Lori five months before he died, and in court documents and conversations with law enforcement he revealed that Lori had threatened to kill him because she believed his body had been possessed by evil spirits.

After Charles died, Lori moved her children to Idaho in August 2019. Gibb recounted a phone call around that time when Lori remarked that her daughter Tylee had also turned into a zombie.

Soon after Gibb visited Lori in Idaho, and the mother began ranting about how her son JJ was ‘acting like a zombie’ and crawling on the kitchen cabinets.

Chad married Lori on November 5, less than two months after her children vanished and two weeks after his previous wife Tammy died. The couple are pictured in January in Kauai, where they fled after police began asking questions about where JJ and Tylee were

Chad married Lori on November 5, less than two months after her children vanished and two weeks after his previous wife Tammy died. The couple are pictured in January in Kauai, where they fled after police began asking questions about where JJ and Tylee were 

In her East Idaho News interview, Gibb also described how Lori and Chad met at an LDS Church conference in late 2018 and quickly developed an eerily close relationship – despite them both being married to other people at the time.

Gibb said Chad had told Lori that they knew each other previous lives and were ‘sealed’ to each other.

Latter-day Saints believe that relationships continue after death if a husband and wife are sealed in the temple by an officiant. People cannot be sealed to a second spouse if they are already legally married to a living person.

Gibb also described an extensive chart Chad made that ranked people based on their spiritual level.

It was four pages and included Biblical apostles, the current Latter-day Saint 12 apostles, family members, friends and celebrities.

The chart detailed how many lives each person had lives, whether they were ‘dark’ or ‘light’ spirits, their previous names and other unusual information.

It stated that Lori was on her 21st life, Chad was on his 31st, and both had lived five lives on this earth. Chad was identified as a Holy Ghost.

It’s unclear how much contact Lori and Chad have had since he landed behind bars last summer.

Lawyers for each of them had argued to keep their cases separate amid speculation that they could turn on each other before trial.

Tuesday’s indictment marked a landmark development in the case that has inspired many television specials, podcasts and Facebook communities of devoted sleuths.

However questions still remain over why the couple allegedly committed murder – and why it took so long for prosecutors to bring the charges.