An alternate juror on the Lori Vallow trial has spoken out to share her belief that the convicted killer’s husband Chad Daybell and brother Alex Cox are equally guilty in the murders.
Juror Tiffany, who was not on the final panel of 12 who deliberated but served as an alternate and was presented with all of the evidence over the course of the six-week trial, spoke with Jesse Weber of Law & Crime about her experience and what she felt led to the guilty verdict.
On Friday 12 May, Vallow was found guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy and grand theft over the deaths of her daughter Tylee Ryan, 16, son Joshua “JJ” Vallow, seven, and of conspiracy to murder Tammy Daybell, 49, her new husband Mr Daybell’s first wife, at Ada County Courthouse in Boise, Idaho.
Tylee and JJ were last seen in September 2019. In June 2020, their remains were found buried in shallow graves on the Daybell property. Tammy died one month after their disappearance in October 2019 and her death was later ruled a homicide by asphyxiation.
Prosecutors argued that Vallow conspired with Mr Daybell and her brother Mr Cox to kill the three victims, motivated by greed and their doomsday cult beliefs.
Asked about the motive, Tiffany said she believes it was a “whirlwind of things that just collided in October 2018” when Vallow and Mr Daybell met.
Tiffany said she was surprised that there was no defence case to argue that Vallow had been manipulated by Mr Daybell and felt that the closing argument was too little too late.
She added that it was part religious beliefs and part money behind what happened and noted that there appeared to be multiple people who would have taken the children off Vallow to care for them should she have needed that.
Were Cox and Mr Daybell on trial as well, Tiffany said she would have convicted them too based on the evidence presented: “Being manipulated by somebody doesn’t get you off the hook. So I do believe honestly that all three of them would be found guilty.”
Mr Daybell is set to face his own trial next year, while Cox died in December 2019.
During jury selection, Tiffany felt she could be impartial based on her experience in the military as a neutral person who does not judge people right away.
She also admitted to not knowing anything about the case going in but was wary of the fact it was centred around the murder of children, being a mother herself. Key to her was watching Vallow’s reaction as the evidence came out — at critical moments, Tiffany said she felt Vallow was “unemotional”.
Tiffany said she would have definitely voted to convict Vallow but added that she would have needed more time to deliberate on Vallow’s involvement in the conspiracy to murder Tammy Daybell.
“I felt pretty solid on the other charges but the one on Tammy Daybell I did not feel solid on. I didn’t feel there was solid evidence for her charge as opposed to the other charges,” she said explaining that the evidence was there but she needed time to talk it over.
Asked if she felt Mr Daybell had killed his wife as prosecutors were suggesting, she replied: “I feel he definitely had a heavier hand in it, I do.”
On the murder of the children, Tiffany said the prosecution’s argument about the money motive — Vallow switched social security payments due to the children to her accounts — was key as they demonstrated she had learned a lesson from the earlier death of her husband Charles Vallow when she had not been the beneficiary of his life insurance. It showed she had prepped for the death of Tylee in particular.
Asked if she believed it was Cox who had actually killed the children, Tiffany said she did, noting his finger and palm prints were found on the plastic bag wrapped around JJ, and his cell phone records placed him at the site where the bodies were buried and led the police to find the graves.
Tiffany added she was sure that Vallow encouraged her Cox to commit crimes but is not sure she knew exactly what happened to the children though was aware they were dead as people searched for them and she remained silent.
Reflecting on two of the most powerful pieces of evidence, Vallow’s jailhouse phone calls with her surviving son Colby Ryan and sister Summer Shiflet, Tiffany says they were tough to hear as there was so much emotion from them but none from Vallow.
For her, the most difficult day of the trial was finding out the manner in which the children died and seeing the autopsy photos of seven-year-old JJ, still wearing his red pyjamas, bound by duct tape.
“I would just come home to my teenage daughter and cry and she would hold me and give me a hug,” Tiffany said, her voice choked with emotion as she recalled seeing a young child in the grocery store wearing pyjamas before coming home and breaking down.
“Those kids need justice for what happened to them because they can no longer speak for themselves … Lori needed to be held responsible for it,” she said.