BOISE, Idaho (NewsNation Now) — Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell faced a judge for the first time Wednesday for murder charges in the death of their two youngest children.
In the case that has come to be known as the “doomsday murders,” indictments have now been handed down against the Daybells for murder, conspiracy and grand theft.
The charges are in connection with the deaths of Lori Daybell’s two youngest children 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow. Chad was also charged with the murder of his ex-wife Tammy Daybell.
The complex case began in 2018, according to the indictment, when Chad and Lori Daybell — both still married to other people — began espousing their apocalyptical system of religious belief. It gained national notoriety in 2019 when Lori Daybell’s brother Alex Cox shot and killed her estranged husband Charles Vallow in Phoenix Arizona in what Cox said was self defense.
Vallow was in the process of divorcing his wife over her cultish religious beliefs including that she claimed to have been empowered to usher in the apocalypse.
After her husband’s death, Lori moved to Idaho with her children and married Chad only two weeks after his own wife’s death. Her obituary said she died in her sleep of natural causes.
He ran a small publishing company, releasing doomsday-focused fiction books loosely based on the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also recorded podcasts about preparing for the apocalypse, and friends said he claimed to be able to receive visions from “beyond the veil.”
Authorities became suspicious after relatives questioned the whereabouts of the family.
Months later the Daybell’s were found in Hawaii without their children, setting off a series of events leading to an extradition to Idaho in February of 2020.
In June of last year the children’s remains were unearthed on property belonging to Chad Daybell in Rexburg, Idaho.
Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill said last June, “it’s good to try to bring some closure to the family and to this story.”
The grand jury alleged that the Daybells and Cox conspired with other unnamed people to kill the children, and that they planned to steal the Social Security survivor benefits that the children were entitled to because of the deaths of their fathers. (Tylee Ryan’s father died in 2018 of a reported heart attack.)
The indictment also alleges the Daybells and Cox conspired to kill Tammy Daybell, and that Cox even practiced shooting, going to a gun range and searching the internet for information about bullet velocity and shooting through vehicles.
Two weeks before her death, Tammy Daybell told the Fremont County sheriff’s office that someone dressed in black and wearing a ski mask shot at her with what she thought was a paintball gun. She wasn’t hit, and with no evidence, law enforcement attributed the incident to a prankster.
Chad and Lori Daybell exchanged text messages saying that Tammy Daybell had been possessed by a spirit named “Viola,” according to the indictment, and that she was in “Limbo.” The allegations are similar to testimony from a friend of the Daybells who previously said in court that Lori Daybell referred to her children as “zombies.”
The friend, Melanie Gibb, said the term referred to someone whose mortal spirit has left their body, allowing it to be possessed by another “dark spirit.”
The investigation took thousands of hours and the grand jury proceedings were hampered by the pandemic.
Now after months in prison, the two are set to face trial for the crimes with their next court appearances in July.