The triple murder trial for Lori Vallow Daybell, 49, a “doomsday cult”-connected mother of two dead children and two dead ex-husbands, began this week with jury selection – a process that will wrap up Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. Opening statements are scheduled to begin on Monday, April 10.
John Glatt is the author of “The Doomsday Mother: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and the End of an American Family,” a book from St. Martin’s Press about the life and times of the Mormon woman who eventually came to believe certain people had become inhabited by “zombies” that had distinct names as they turned away from the “light” and moved greater into “darkness.”
And zombies have to be killed. Some of those would-be zombies, law enforcement say, were her children she is alleged to have killed: her adopted son, Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow, 7, and her biological daughter, Tylee Ashlyn Ryan, 17. The murders are believed to have occurred sometime in September 2019. Both children went missing on different dates that same month.
The defendant and her current husband, Chad Daybell, are also charged with the October 2019 murder of Tammy Daybell, 49.
During a recent episode of “Sidebar,” Glatt discussed several interesting facts about Lori Vallow’s life before and after she was arrested and charged with the murder of her children and Chad Daybell’s first wife.
She once competed on “Wheel of Fortune” – and won
Vallow told her sister that she received a “message from God” that she “needed to appear” on the long-running game show co-hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White, Glatt said. She auditioned for the show and made it on, the author told Sidebar. While on the show, around 2001 or 2002, she was “bantering” with Sajak and mentioned her then-husband, Joe Ryan, who she was divorcing. She also mentioned her two children at the time: Tylee Ashlyn Ryan and Colby Ryan. She ended up winning $17,500.
“And she told everybody it was a gift from God,” Glatt said.
She also competed in the Mrs. Texas Pageant – and lost
While married to business analyst Joe Ryan, Tylee Ryan’s biological father, the defendant won the Mrs. Hays County pageant in Texas in 2004. She would go on to compete in the Mrs. Texas pageant and made it through to the semifinal round of 15 contestants.
The defendant, then 30, took part in the swimsuit portion and formal gown portion. Glatt recalled that her answer during the interview portion of the show was “very interesting.”
“Being a good mom is very important to me, and a good wife and a good worker,” she said in response to a question about what made her tick. “And being all those things together is not easy. So, I’m basically a ticking time bomb.”
Watch the full “Sidebar” episode with Glatt in the player below:
She believed her slain daughter was her dead sister reincarnated
Lori Vallow has long believed that “she was in contact with the spirits from behind the veil,” Glatt told Sidebar.
The accused child killer believed that her late sister, Stacey Lynne Cox Cope, who died at 31 from diabetes-related complications in 1998, often spoke to her at night. On top of that, the author said, Vallow “firmly believed” that her daughter, Tylee Ryan, “was actually the reincarnation of her dead sister.”
After Cope died, Vallow assumed something like the role of a “second mother” to her daughter, Melani Pawlowski née Boudreaux, Glatt said. Melani Pawlowski is among a lengthy list of family members and other individuals who could be called as a witness by the prosecution as the trial moves on to testimony next week. While spending much time with her niece after Cope’s death, Vallow “was convinced” that “she was in constant contact with Stacey.”
Melani Pawlowski doesn’t believe her aunt helped to raise her after the tragedy but told East Idaho News Director Nate Eaton that Lori Vallow would often take her out “and go do fun things” and that her aunts and uncles “were so important in my life.”
She danced to religious music in front of a mirror late at night
Vallow has, for years, been fond of dancing, Glatt told “Sidebar.”
“This goes back a long way,” the author told Law&Crime’s Angenette Levy. “She even had her third husband, Charles Vallow, give her a special room. He even built a special room with a full-length mirror. And she would turn on the music late at night and dance in front of it. And this is something she did constantly, you know, wherever she lived. She always had mirrors up and would dance.”
Glatt surmised that Vallow’s dancing is, perhaps, how she communicates with God – and likely ongoing. The author said: “The inmates would say that she still danced late at night in her cell.”
She had a bedroom closet portal where her husband visited her
Lori Vallow told her best friend Melanie Gibb she could visit with her current husband, Chad Daybell, through a bedroom closet portal late at night. Daybell is also accused of the three triple murder charges his wife faces but will be tried separately.
“Wherever Chad was, he would come and visit, and they had a special portal in her bedroom closet,” Glatt said. “Although he didn’t come physically. He came spiritually, and they would be able to talk and pray together. And commune, you know, and make their plans, you know, for the end of the world and how they were going to, you know, lead the 144,000 chosen people to the next life.”
When Charles Vallow filed for divorce, he noted a distinct change in Lori Vallow’s worldview, writing in one filing that his estranged wife believed she was “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020.”
Gibb, another potential witness for the prosecution, already testified extensively in the case during Chad Daybell’s preliminary hearing and, years ago, surreptitiously recorded a phone call with the couple after they asked her to lie about the whereabouts of the children. She later turned that recording over to the police.
She befriended other inmates, and they made her makeup
“Lori was a total narcissist,” Glatt told Sidebar. “She really cared about her appearance, and she liked to look the best in court.”
The author said the defendant befriended a collection of longtime inmates when she was first arrested who helped her develop a prison commissary-based makeup suite and routine.
“They taught her how to make, you know, bright red lipstick with Jolly Rancher candy,” Glatt said. “And you can see in the videos of her court appearances this garish red lipstick that she had. And she also did eyeliner from pencils. And this was like surviving behind bars for Lori to look her best, you know when the cameras were on her.”
Cameras are famously not being allowed in court during Lori Vallow’s trial. Glatt suggested that, perhaps, Judge Steven Boyce declined to allow a live stream because the accused murderess might “play up to it” and “act like she was at a Hollywood opening.”
She had numerous home salons as a hairdresser
“Right from the beginning, she was a hairdresser,” Glatt told Sidebar. “She worked in salons in Texas, Arizona, and whatever.
Aside from the room of mirrors, Charles Vallow “gave his wife” a home salon, the author said – as did her previous husband, Joe Ryan.
“So she would have her clients over, cut [their] hair,” Glatt went on. “She’d cut relations hair and whatever. And that’s what she liked to do. And supposedly, she was very good at it, you know.”
According to the author, working in salons as a beautician, focused on cutting hair, was the only job he could ever find any records of Lori Vallow having held “before she met the men that would keep her.”
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