“Cult mom” Lori Vallow allegedly killed her two children in what she believed was an act of “mercy,” her former friend has said.
Ms Vallow and her doomsday preacher husband Chad Daybell are accused of killing her two youngest children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and seven-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow. Ms Vallow is currently facing trial in Boise, Idaho, while Mr Daybell’s proceedings are scheduled for later this year.
The couple is accused of killing the children shortly after they went missing in September 2019 after becoming convinced the minors were zombies whose “dark spirits” had to be released through death. Ms Vallow and Mr Daybell refused to cooperate in a desperate cross-state search for Tylee and JJ that went on for nine months before their remains were ultimately found buried on Mr Daybell’s property in Salem.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with NewsNation, a former friend of Ms Vallow, who asked to only be identified as “Jess,” said that the murder suspect believed she needed to “kill her children’s [possessed] bodies” to give them a chance to go to heaven.
“They don’t see the zombies as people. They see them the way someone would see a cockroach being controlled by a parasite,” she said in the interview aired on Wednesday night. “When people have these beliefs, killing the kids, to them, is mercy.”
She added: “As disturbing as that is and hard as that is to wrap your mind around it, that is why someone who spent all these years being kind and loving could then do that.”
Jess went on to say that those beliefs had been instilled in Ms Vallow by Mr Daybell, who published several books about apocalyptic scenarios loosely based on the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Ms Vallow reportedly told Jess that she could cast out demons out of her body “several times a day.”
“She said, ‘Oh you raise your right arm to the square and then you command them three times to leave,’” Jess recounted.
According to court records, the couple had a scoring system for ranking how far people’s souls had gone from good to evil. The only way to then rid an individual of the zombies would be for them to die.
“[Mr Vallow] was telling her all of this stuff and she trusted him and she believed him. She believed he was a prophet,” Jess said. “If you believe with all your heart that this person and everything they say and do is right, and they tell you that your child is not alive, that they have a parasite and that they will suffer.”
Jess said that she believes Ms Vallow is still holding onto those beliefs.
“I don’t think Lori can ever get better,” she said. “Because if she does, she has to face the fact ... that she allowed or even participated in killing her own children for nothing and I don’t think she can face that.”
“Who can face that? Who can face that they killed their own child? She has to believe it for the rest of her life to believe in herself,” she added.
Ms Vallow’s trial is underway in Idaho. Opening arguments are set to begin on Monday (10 April).
The case was moved to Boise over concerns that its notoriety would taunt the jury pool. Despite efforts to try the case in a different county, dozens of jurors have been dismissed due to previous knowledge about the crimes.
Thirty-nine jurors have been chosen so far. The court must select 42 jurors before narrowing down the number to 18 — 12 who will deliberate and six alternates.
JJ and Tylee were last seen in September 2019, weeks after the family moved to Rexburg, Idaho, following Ms Vallow’s husband Charles Vallow’s fatal shooting by her brother Alex Cox during a supposed domestic argument — for which Mr Daybell and Ms Vallow are also facing conspiracy to murder charges in Arizona.
Cox claimed he acted in self-defence before his death in December 2019.
Mr Daybell’s former wife, Tammy Daybell, was also found dead at their Idaho home in October 2019, weeks before he married Ms Vallow in Hawaii.
Tammy Daybell was initially ruled to have died of natural causes after her husband declined an autopsy. The case was then reopened amid the search for JJ and Tylee, paving the way for conspiracy charges Mr Daybell and Ms Vallow now face in her death.