‘Cult mom’ arrested in Hawaii could face death penalty


FILE – In this March 6, 2020, file photo, Lori Vallow Daybell, left, glances at the camera during her hearing, in Rexburg, Idaho. In an indictment, Monday, May 24, 2021, Daybell, the mother of two children who were found dead in Idaho, in 2020, and her new husband were charged with murder in a case involving doomsday religious beliefs. (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, Pool, File)

HONOLULU (KHON) – On Monday, Idaho prosecutors filed a notice of intent seeking the death penalty against Lori Vallow Daybell, accused of killing two of her children, if she’s convicted.

She and her husband, Chad Daybell, are both charged with murder, conspiracy and grand theft in connection with the 2019 deaths of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan.

The children were missing for months in 2019, but their bodies were eventually found buried in the yard outside Chad’s home in Idaho. In 2020, the Daybells were arrested on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

In Monday’s notice, prosecutors say Vallow Daybell will qualify for capital punishment if convicted because the slayings were exceptionally depraved and carried out for financial gain.

The complex and bizarre case began in 2018 when Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell met and began embracing their apocalyptic system of cult-like beliefs of “zombies” and “vibrations.” By May 2019, police said Vallow Daybell was looking at gemstones online similar to the ones that would later be used in their wedding rings.

On July 11, 2019, police said Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed her estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in suburban Phoenix. That’s when police launched their investigation. Cox claimed self-defense and was never charged. He later died of an apparent blood clot in his lung.

Shortly after Charles Vallow was killed, Vallow Daybell and her two children moved in with Chad Daybell in Idaho.

The couple have also been charged in the death of Chad Daybell’s previous wife, Tammy Daybell, who died unexpectedly at home in Idaho in October 2019. Investigators were suspicious of the death after Chad Daybell married Vallow Daybell two weeks later.

Chad Daybell is also facing a potential death penalty if convicted. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Vallow Daybell is set to stand trial in Boise, Idaho, in October 2022, Nexstar’s KTVX reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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