Who are Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow? Key players in the ‘doomsday cult’ murder case

Chad Daybell is on trial for the murders of his wife Tammy Daybell and Lori Vallow’s children JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan

Rachel Sharp
Wednesday 10 April 2024 11:57 BST
Chad Daybell: Murder trial set to begin in April

Chad Daybell is now on trial for the murders of his wife Tammy Daybell and Lori Vallow’s children JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan – almost one year after Vallow was convicted in the slayings.

JJ, seven, and Tylee, 16, went missing back in 2019, their remains later found buried on the grounds of Mr Daybell’s Chad property in Idaho.

One month after the children were last seen, Mr Daybell’s first wife Tammy, 49, died suddenly and Vallow and Mr Daybell jetted off and got married on a beach in Hawaii.

Prosecutors said that the couple conspired with Vallow’s brother Alex Cox to kill JJ, Tylee and Tammy as part of their doomsday cult beliefs – but also so they could collect life insurance money and the kids’ social security and survivor benefits.

It’s a bizarre and tragic case that has shocked the nation over the last few years – and which played out in court for the first time as Vallow stood trial.

The so-called “cult mom” was convicted of all charges and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in July.

Mr Daybell’s trial began with jury selection on 1 April 2024. He faces the death penalty in the case.

Cox never faced any charges over any of the killings because he also died suddenly in December 2019.

Beyond the Idaho charges, Vallow is also awaiting trial in Arizona for the murder of her fourth husband Charles Vallow – who was shot dead by Cox in July 2019.

Here are the key players in the sprawling case:

Lori Vallow

Vallow, 49, has been everything from a beauty pageant queen to a TV game show contestant to a hairdresser - and now, a convicted killer.

Born in 1973 in California, the 49-year-old has been married five times and had three children – Colby Ryan, 27, Tylee and JJ. Mr Ryan is now the only one of her children still alive.

When she married her fourth husband Charles Vallow and they adopted JJ, the family moved to Hawaii for a few years before returning to Arizona in 2017.

Doomsday cult mom Lori Vallow appearing in court in 2020 (Post Register no sales no mags)

But it was around this time that Vallow was reading Mr Daybell’s doomsday books and friends say her behaviour started to change. Her religious beliefs grew increasingly extreme – and moved further from the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

She met Mr Daybell in person for the first time in October 2018 and they began a romance.

In July 2019, Vallow conspired with her brother to kill Charles. After his death, she moved with JJ and Tylee to Idaho to be with Mr Daybell.

Vallow, Cox and allegedly Mr Daybell then also conspired to murder Tylee, JJ and Tammy.

As part of their cult beliefs, they allegedly believed in a “rating system of light and dark” for how they ranked the spirits of the people around them.

Over time, this evolved into the belief that some people were “zombies” and the only way to get rid of the zombies was for the human body to be destroyed. Before Tylee and JJ were last seen alive, Vallow told friends the two children had become zombies and dark spirits.

Chad Daybell

Mr Daybell, 54, is a self-published author who wrote doomsday books loosely based on the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

He was also a professional cemetery sexton and ran a podcast based on his doomsday teachings.

He married his first wife Tammy in 1990 and they founded Spring Creek Book Company together in Utah – the company which published his doomsday books.

The couple had five children together and moved to Salem, Idaho, in 2015.

Chad Daybell wrote doomsday books loosely based on the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Post Register)

Among his teachings, he claimed he could teleport, could see into the future and see dead people, and that he and Vallow were part of the chosen 144,000.

His trial began on 1 April 2024. He has pleaded not guilty.

He has not been charged over Charles Vallow’s death – but prosecutors in Arizona said this was only because they didn’t think the charges would stick.

Tylee Ryan

Tylee Ryan was Lori Vallow’s daughter from her third marriage to Joseph Ryan.

She was just 16 when she was last seen alive on 8 September 2019, in photos captured at Yellowstone National Park with JJ, her mother, and her uncle Alex Cox.

For months, Vallow refused to say where Tylee and her brother JJ were.

In June 2020, Tylee’s remains were found on Mr Daybell’s property in Idaho. Her body had been dismembered, burned and buried on his pet cemetery.

Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan (AP)

Joshua “JJ” Vallow

Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, was the adoptive son of Vallow and Charles Vallow.

The couple adopted the boy when he was around a year old. Charles Vallow’s sister Kay Woodcock was JJ’s biological grandmother.

JJ, who had autism, was last seen alive on 23 September 2019.

His remains were found buried on Mr Daybell’s property in Idaho in June 2020, his body wrapped in duct tape and a plastic bag.

Alex Cox

Alex Cox was Vallow’s brother – who mysteriously died in December 2019.

Cox is also Vallow and Mr Daybell’s alleged accomplice and co-conspirator in the murders of Tylee, JJ andTammy.

He also shot dead Vallow’s fourth husband Charles Vallow in July 2019.

Alex Cox died suddenly in December 2019 – two months after allegedly conspiring to murder the children (File)

In December 2019 – just as Tammy’s body was being exhumed by authorities – Cox died suddenly aged 51.

His death has been ruled natural causes, with indications of a blood clot wedged in the arteries of his lungs. However, the overdose drug Narcan was also found in his system.

Charles Vallow

Charles Vallow was Lori Vallow’s fourth husband. The couple married in 2006 and adopted JJ together.

In July 2019, Cox shot and killed Charles at Vallow’s home in Chandler, Arizona.

Cox claimed that he shot Charles in self-defence when he tried to attack him with a baseball bat. However, Cox did not perform CPR on Vallow and waited 43 minutes to call police.

Charles and Lori Vallow pictured together. Lori is charged with conspiracy to murder Charles in Arizona (Provided)

At the time, the case was closed as self-defence but, after it was reopened, investigators found that Cox and Vallow allegedly conspired to kill Vallow.

His death came after he had warned – in divorce filings and police complaints – that he feared his wife would kill him and that she believed she was a god preparing for a second coming.

Vallow is now facing charges in Arizona of conspiring to murder Charles.

Tammy Daybell

Tammy Daybell was Mr Daybell’s first wife who he allegedly murdered in October 2019.

In October 2019, Tammy called 911 after a man allegedly shot at her in the driveway of her home. She took to Facebook to describe the incident.

Just 10 days later, Tammy died suddenly in her sleep at the age of 49. Her death was initially ruled natural causes and Mr Daybell declined an autopsy.

Tammy and Chad Daybell were married in 1990. He is now accused of conspiring with Lori Vallow to kill her (Facebook)

But following the disappearance of Tylee and JJ, law enforcement officials grew suspicious. Her body was exhumed for an autopsy, with officials finding she actually died by asphyxiation.

Vallow was found guilty of conspiring to murder her while Mr Daybell is charged with her murder.

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