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Lori Vallow Daybell’s triple murder trial continues with 13th day of testimony


Lori Vallow appears in a courtroom sketch on April 11, 2023; JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan appear inset. (Courtroom pool sketch artist; Fremont County Sheriff’s Office)

The triple murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell — a “doomsday cult”-connected mother of two dead children and former wife to two dead husbands — stretched into its thirteenth day of testimony in an Ada County, Idaho, courthouse on Friday morning.

Vallow, 49, and her fifth and current husband, Chad Daybell, 54, stand accused of murder in the 2019 deaths of Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ashlyn Ryan, 17. The children disappeared on different dates in September of that year. Vallow was initially arrested in Hawaii in February 2020 on charges of child desertion. Daybell was arrested later that year after the children’s bodies were found buried in shallow graves on his property in Salem, Idaho.

The two were indicted for the murder of Vallow’s children and Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell, 49, in May 2021. They were initially prosecuted as husband-and-wife co-defendants, but the couple’s cases were recently severed and they now face separate trials.

The third week of the trial comes after abbreviated first and second weeks. The trial is now well ahead of schedule.

Keeping proceedings apace is the speed at which the many witnesses in the complex case are testifying – most of them moving quickly for the state and facing little in the way of cross-examination by the defense.

Last week, jurors heard from Lori Vallow’s only surviving son, Colby Ryan, who took the stand and discussed his faith and family. He later sat silently for jurors as prosecutors played a jailhouse phone call between him and his mother in which he accuses her of murdering his siblings and calls her a liar.

On Tuesday, a similar scene played out in the Gem State’s southwestern halls of justice as Vallow’s sister, Summer Cox Shiflet, took the stand – first to smiles from the defendant. But that smile turned to visible grief as the aunt of the deceased children sat on the stand as an emotional jailhouse phone call between the sisters was played.

More Law&Crime coverage: ‘You got wedding pictures while your kids are in the ground?’: Lori Vallow’s sister rages in jailhouse call accusing defendant of treating her dead children like ‘garbage’

Wednesday, the jury heard grim and gruesome details about the way the children died, including JJ Vallow’s cause of death; Tylee Ryan’s cause of death is unknown to this day. Jurors were also shown autopsy photographs that showed how, exactly, the children’s bodies were treated after their murders.

Jurors heard more disturbing evidence about the deaths on Friday, including testimony from a chemical expert who said gasoline was used as the accelerant to burn the remains. FBI agents also described the site where the bodies of Vallow’s children were found.

Law&Crime correspondents will provide updates in court on Friday and throughout the trial.


9:00 a.m. MT – Tammy Daybell’s sister, Samantha Gwilliam, learned Chad Daybell’s new wife was named Lori Ryan. Samantha soon started searching the internet and found out who she really was. 

10:15 a.m. MT – Jury hears 911 calls of the “paintball” incident and then Tammy Daybell’s death where Chad Daybell says her body is “frozen.”

11:00 a.m. MT – Cammi Willmore, who was the deputy coroner in October 2019, testifies about Tammy Daybell’s death and her suspicions that she was poisoned. Meanwhile, Chad Daybell did not want an autopsy done.

11:35 a.m. MT – Fremont County Coroner Brenda Dye determined Tammy Daybell died of natural causes — prosecutors in opening statements revealed a reexamination of Tammy Daybell’s exhumed remains showed she died of asphyxiation and her manner of death was homicide 

12:28 p.m. MT – Dye was present when the second autopsy was done on Tammy Daybell ruling her death a homicide by asphyxiation

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